Founding chair of College of Medicine's physiology department passes

March 06, 2009

Howard E. Morgan, 81, founding chair of Penn State College of Medicine’s Department of Physiology, died Monday, March 2, at the age of 81.

Morgan was internationally regarded as one of the greatest experimental cardiologists of the 20th century. His strong commitment to excellence in heart research came from a clear vision of blending basic sciences with clinical cardiology, and he was deeply devoted to helping cardiovascular scientists reach their potential.
By taking college courses during the summer and holidays and in his fourth year of high school, Morgan was able to move directly to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he received his medical degree in 1949. He completed his internship and residency at Vanderbilt University and held faculty appointments in Vanderbilt's Department of Physiology and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute from 1954-67. Morgan developed the isolated, perfused working-heart preparation from adult rats that is used extensively in metabolic studies worldwide.

In 1967, he founded the Department of Physiology at Penn State College of Medicine. His research between 1987-98 at the Sigfried and Janet Weis Center for Research, Geisinger Clinic, focused on the intracellular signaling systems that are responsible for accelerated growth and hypertrophy of the heart. Morgan wrote more than 250 scientific publications. His work was named three times as a "Citation Classic” — a paper with more than 500 citations in published research.
Morgan was president of the American Heart Association 1987-88, president of the International Society for Heart Research 1983-86, and president of the American Physiological Society 1985-86. He was founding president of the International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences 1996-2002. He served as coordinator of the U.S./U.S.S.R Exchange program dealing with cardiovascular biology and medicine for 20 years. He was a member of Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He was also the recipient of the Abigail A. Geisinger Award.

At the time of his death, Morgan was the Evan Pugh Professor of Physiology, Emeritus, at Penn State College of Medicine and senior vice president for research, Emeritus, Geisinger Clinic, and was a consultant to the Reynolds Foundation, Whitaker Foundation and the Bugher Foundation.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions in his memory be made to Penn State College of Medicine, Morgan Fund (for graduate students), Cellular and Molecular Physiology Department, Hershey, PA, 17033 or American Heart Association National Center, 7272 Greenville Ave., Dallas, TX, 75231.

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Last Updated October 17, 2019