Dr. David Morris was a pioneer in oral drops, or sublingual immunotherapy, in treating allergies and asthma.
His private clinic, Allergy Associates of La Crosse, has been located in the Professional Arts Building across from Franciscan Skemp Medical Center since July 1970, and it has drawn patients from all over the United States.
The 79-year-old Morris retired Jan. 1 after 40 years at his clinic, which treated more than 120,000 patients and averaged 10,000 patient
visits a year. He had worked with five other physicians, including his daughter, Dr. Mary Morris.
"I think even now people recognize his pioneer treatment of airborne allergies," Mary Morris said. "I don't think he will be recognized for several years for what a contribution he made for food allergies, contact allergies, immunotherapy for cancer and infertility."
Mary Morris said oral drops are much more accepted by the medical community and major universities such as Duke University and the University of Wisconsin in Madison, which are conducting research studies on sublingual immunotherapy.
She said she is grateful her father lived to see research done on sublingual immunotherapy.
"He paved the way for me to be able to do research at major academic places so proper studies could be done," Marry Morris said. "He also was fortunate to live to see his work accepted and studied."
She said her father stayed focused on the patient when critics would not accept his work.
"I admired my dad for always putting the patient first, even when colleagues were really critical of him," Mary Morris said. "Even when people were unkind, he put the problems of his patient ahead of his."
At the age of 13, Mary Morris said, she worked in her father's clinic and saw patients get better with his immunotherapy.
"I can't believe how fortunate I am," she said. "It's an honor to follow in my dad's footsteps."
Allergies and immunity fascinated Morris before he began medical school at the University of Wisconsin. His older brother was severely allergic to molds and had a type of asthma that causes chronic coughing.
Morris said many of his patients had farmer's lung problems caused by mold allergies. When Morris first started his Wednesday night allergy clinic, he offered patients a choice: allergy shots or drops.
"After three years," said Morris, "no one was lining up for shots anymore."
His work led to the development of another company, Allergychoices Inc., an educational and networking resource for patients and physicians who are interested in sublingual immunotherapy.
More than 200 medical practices in 44 states now treat patients with the
La Crosse Method Practice Protocol.
To honor Morris and his wife, Sacia, for their support of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health and research, an institute on campus was named Morris Institute of Respiratory Research.
"I'm proud of what he's done," Mary Morris said. "And so is he."