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BMJ. 2007 November 10; 335(7627): 999.
PMCID: PMC2072009

John Edgar Morison

John Edgar Morison was educated at Banbridge Academy and entered the medical faculty of Queen's University in 1929. After two years, and obtaining second place in the second medical examination, he transferred for one year to the faculty of science, obtaining the degree of bachelor of science with honours in physiology and biochemistry in 1932. He was awarded the Peel prize in philosophy in 1932. He graduated MB BCh BAO with honours and a first scholarship in 1935. He gained the MD gold medal in 1940 and DSc in 1951. He was also FRCPath, FRCOG ad eundem gradum, and was awarded an OBE in 1984.

John worked from 1937 in the University Department of Pathology. During the years of the second world war, despite heavy teaching and diagnostic work, he produced and published papers in morbid anatomy and bacteriology. He became interested in the pathology of the perinatal period. Awarded a Rockefeller travelling fellowship, he worked at Harvard Medical School at the Boston Children's Hospital (1946-7). Returning to Belfast, he was appointed reader and admitted to the pre-NHS visiting staff of the Royal Victoria Hospital. Foetal and Neonatal Pathology appeared as a pioneering study in 1951 and in new editions in 1963 and 1970, and there were Italian, Spanish, and Japanese editions. He published numerous articles in national and international journals and was the editor of the Ulster Medical Journal from 1951 to 1984. He was president of the Ulster Medical Society from 1974 to 1975 and made an honorary fellow in 1979. He also valued his honorary fellowships of the local Ulster Surgical Club and the Ulster Obstetric Society.

In 1954 he resigned his readership in the University to become an NHS consultant histopathologist based at the Belfast City Hospital Laboratory. From here he developed a unique diagnostic histopathology service for the non-teaching hospitals throughout Northern Ireland. This grew to nearly 24 000 specimens a year before decentralisation occurred in the early 1970s. He recognised the need for more laboratory space in the planned new City Hospital, and was able with influential support to arrange that part of the foundation of the podium of the new hospital be strengthened to carry two storeys. Later this space was required before the UGC would recognise the hospital as a university teaching hospital. A shortage of consultant histopathologists delayed his retirement to 1984.

At the invitation of the British Council he undertook a 10 week visit in 1960 to Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil, where there was an awakening interest in perinatal problems. Contacts in North America were maintained by visits, and he acted as guest professor in Illinois University at Chicago. He was also asked to act as referee on WHO classification of ovarian tumours.

Interests included travel, gardening, photography, collecting antique Irish glass, and restoring old furniture. He leaves a wife, Ellen; three children; and six grandchildren.


Former consultant in histopathology and honorary professor of histopathology Queen's University, Belfast (b Banbridge, County Down, 1912; q Queen's University, Belfast, 1935; OBE, BSc (Hons), MD, DSc, FRCPath, FRCOG ), d 5 September 2007.

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