Retired Cargill CEO elected chair of private, nonprofit Morgridge Institute for Research
Ernest Micek has been elected chair of the board of trustees for the Morgridge Institute for Research.
He succeeds Carl E. Gulbrandsen, managing director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, who served as the founding chair of the biomedical research institution and will remain a member of the board.
The private, nonprofit Morgridge Institute for Research is an affiliate of WARF, which provides service and support as part of its mission to promote, encourage and aid scientific investigation and research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
“I look forward to working with the board, with Morgridge Institute executive director Sangtae “Sang” Kim and with the esteemed researchers who lead our scientific challenge areas as we work to accelerate the discovery and delivery of scientific breakthroughs to improve human health and well-being,” Micek says. “We are particularly excited about current research that integrates cutting-edge technologies from multiple fields. We have already seen results in regenerative biology involving the correction of a gene responsible for a degenerative vision disorder and the creation of patient-matched cells that are free of the disease. We also are applying this approach to other fields, such as virology and medical devices. We believe this is just the beginning.”
Kim said Micek’s ties with the private sector also are expected to spur additional opportunities for collaboration and technology transfer.
“As a private, nonprofit research institute, we can operate nimbly in establishing relationships with industry on a variety of levels,” Kim says. “Our scientific challenge areas were chosen for their exceptional potential to advance basic science as well as the promise they hold in addressing some of the world’s most devastating diseases. We believe Ernie will help guide us as we work to cultivate industry partners capable of developing and commercializing the discoveries from our labs.”
The Morgridge Institute’s scientific leaders pursue research challenges and programming in regenerative biology; virology; medical devices; pharmaceutical informatics; education research; core computational technology; and education and outreach experiences.
Micek, a UW–Madison alumnus with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, started his career at Cargill in 1959 as a shift supervisor at a soybean processing plant in Virginia. During the course of his tenure with the company, Cargill grew from a grain trading company with earnings of about $5 million per year to one of the world’s largest privately owned businesses, providing food, agricultural risk management, financial and industrial products and services around the globe.
Micek’s contributions to Cargill’s growth were recognized in 1994 when he was named president and again in 1995 when he was appointed chairman and chief executive officer, a position he retired from in 2000.
In addition to his corporate leadership duties, Micek served as chairman of the Emergency Committee for American Trade, participated on the President’s Export Council and is a past chair of the U.S. Trade and Technology Policy Group of the National Association of Manufacturers. He also was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve as one of three American business representatives with the forum for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation from 1999 through 2002.
Micek’s support for the university has been longstanding and he has received a distinguished service award from the College of Engineering as well as an honorary doctor of science degree. He also serves on the board of trustees for WARF.