Reporter 415, 23 February 1998


Resolution adopted by the Senate (4 February 1998) on the retirement of

Professor John Morrison

John Morrison read medicine at the University of Edinburgh, the city of his birth. His undergraduate career revealed early leanings towards a career in medical science, with prizes at 2nd MB in Anatomy, Biochemistry and Physiology.

On completion of his PhD, John was appointed as a lecturer in Physiology at Leeds in 1970. He quickly established himself as an independent researcher, being promoted to a senior lectureship in 1976, a readership in 1983 and a personal chair in 1988.

John's research has been mainly concerned with the spinal afferent innervation of viscera, and the influences of these nerves on autonomic and somatic reflex pathways in the spinal cord. This work has been supported by the MRC, the Wellcome Trust and other organisations; a series of postgraduate students have received training during the course of these activities, and it was a particular source of pride to John when an ex-student of his was recently appointed to the prestigious Sherrington Chair of Physiology at the University of London.

His international reputation is well established. In 1985 John was invited by Deutsche Forschungs Germeinschaft to spend a month in Kiel as a Guest Professor, and in 1986 he visited India, and was awarded the Mahalanobis Gold Medal of the Indian Physiological Society. In 1992 he was awarded his FRCS(Ed) ad hominem for his work on human pathophysiology. John was a Visiting Professor at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology on three occasions in the 1990s; he was awarded a medal by the Akita Medical Society in 1995; and he was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Biologists in 1996.

John’s publications include two books: the first, a volume on Visceral Sensation within the Progress in Brain Research series, was edited jointly with Femando Cervero; the other, on the Physiology of the Lower Urinary Tract, contains five chapters written by John on different topics related to sensory mechanisms and motor control in the bladder and urethra. Recently he has written a keynote review in a book series on the Autonomic Nervous System.

Alongside a very busy research career John also became fully involved in the wider University arena during his headship of the Department (1987-92), by the end of which he was serving on thirty-two University committees! Since relinquishing the headship of the department, John has been influential in finding ways to recruit and support more young research active staff; improving the conditions for research and postgraduate training in the department; forming effective research groupings; promoting interdisciplinary activity; and establishing international collaborations. On the teaching side, he has contributed significantly to an expansion of the science courses; modularisation; improving teaching quality; increasing student choice; and to producing a better balance of teaching loads.

Throughout most of his career, John was continuously supported by his wife Lynn, who sadly died in 1989. Retirement from Leeds will not mark John’s disappearance from the academic scene: he is to move to the Medical School at United Arab Emirates University in Al Ain. He is a great loss to Leeds, and all his colleagues wish him well for the future. His love of good food and music will doubtless ensure that he soon settles in a challenging new environment.

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