Alumni Feature: In Honor of Dr. Grant Morrow, III

Grant Morrow III
Grant Morrow, III, MD

If you have read the previous alumnus highlights in our Medical Alumni Program newsletter, you have seen descriptions of how different training was in the 1970s compared to today. What you haven’t read about is how the transition took place and who spearheaded the progress. That story commenced in 1978 when Grant Morrow, II, MD, joined what was then Columbus Children’s Hospital and began paving the way for the future of not only medical training, but also research and clinical care at what is now Nationwide Children’s Hospital. 

After Dr. Morrow earned his medical degree in 1959 from the University of Pennsylvania, he completed an internship at the University of Colorado, Denver General Hospital; a pediatric residency at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania; and a neonatal fellowship at Pennsylvania Hospital, University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Morrow then served on the Department of Pediatrics faculty at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine until 1972 when he accepted a position at the Arizona School of Medicine. It was from there that he was recruited by what is known today as Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Dr. Morrow joined (Nationwide) Children’s Hospital in 1978 as the medical director of the hospital, the head of the Department of Pediatrics, the medical director of the Children’s Hospital Research Foundation, and the chair of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University. In the years to come, he would also take on the role of vice president of Nationwide Children’s Hospital Foundation. He also was honored to accept the prestigious position of president of the American Board of Pediatrics. Dr. Morrow is boarded in pediatrics, neonatology, and genetics and metabolic disorders.

When Dr. Morrow joined Children’s Hospital in 1978, the resident class was recruiting to match 22 residents, but only matched seven. The department also had vacancies from the previous resident recruitment year as well as faculty vacancies, leaving the relatively small staff extremely busy.

“We had to work very hard to make up for the vacant resident positions, but it was a great learning experience and the camaraderie formed then has lasted since. As long as we had support, we could do it. And we had that support from Dr. Morrow. I have a lifetime appreciation for him. Dr. Morrow is a great thinker and a great personal friend,” shares Dr. Roger Friedman, class of ’77 and chairman of the Medical Alumni Program.

Recognizing the critical and vital role community pediatricians were playing in the training of residents, Dr. Morrow immediately set forth to solidify the relationship between them and the hospital. He promised to enhance their practices by providing more subspecialty expertise. And that promise remains strong today.

The residency program has grown tremendously since the 70’s and Dr. Morrow attributes much of the success to Dr. Mary McIlroy, who revamped the program, and to Dr. Toni (Antoinette) Eaton who enhanced the clinics to become more educationally friendly and attractive for residents. Beyond recruiting residents, Dr. Morrow played a critical role in recruiting faculty. From 1978 to 2015 faculty grew from 19 to 462. It is important to note that, while Dr. Morrow had stepped down from his position as chair in 1995, he remained involved in recruitment endeavors.

In addition to teaching and clinical care, Dr. Morrow recognized the need for enhanced pediatric research. Along with others, he approached the Wexner family who became the primary donor for the hospital’s first research building which opened in 1988. When Dr. Morrow began his tenure as medical director of the Research Foundation, the staff of researchers numbered 20 conducting $200,000 in grant-funded investigation. Today, there are 160 basic science, clinical and behavioral health scientists at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the awards have escalated to $81.7 million. It is one of the largest pediatric research centers in the United States and is ranked in the top 10 for National Institutes of Health funding among freestanding children’s hospitals.

During Dr. Morrow’s retirement event in 2015, Dr. Steve Allen, chief executive office of Nationwide Children's Hospital commented that the hospital had grown from a gem of the local community into a premier international pediatric healthcare destination and that evolution can only be possible when an institution is anchored by dedicated, committed leaders. Leaders like Grant Morrow, III, MD.

There is so much more to say about Dr. Morrow and the impact he has had on research, medical education, and patient care. This brief article barely scratches the surface. He made a difference in the lives of countless medical and research professionals as well as patients and families. Perhaps Dr. Bruce Meyer, Nationwide Children’s administrative medical director who was recruited by Dr. Morrow to perform many clinical administrative roles says it best when he shares, “Dr. Morrow enhanced my life. Everything that I have done in my career at Nationwide Children's Hospital I attribute to him.”