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Dr. Richard Ellenbogen, professor and chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery, writes and remembers about his late friend and colleague Richard Morrison. Professor Morrison passed away on October 25, 2019 due to complications from esophageal cancer at age 65. He was a neuroscientist and educator in the UW Department of Neurological Surgery.

Professor Emeritus Richard Morrison, a beloved friend and colleague for over 25 years, sadly passed away on October 25 due to complications from esophageal cancer at age 65.

Rick was a highly respected neuroscientist with a 25-plus-year history in the Department of Neurological Surgery. He gained international respect as a superb and highly productive neuroscientist and outstanding collaborator and colleague. He published 70 peer-reviewed articles, many of which appeared in prestigious and highly influential journals. He made major contributions to the field as an editorial board member of five leading journals and also as a permanent member of one National Institutes of Health (NIH) study section and ad hoc member of 17 others, in addition to membership on special emphasis review panels and as a consultant to internationally based science foundations. While a faculty member, he received over $19 million dollars of NIH support, including a center grant, and was often named among the top 50 individual investigator recipients of NIH funding.

Rick was also integral to UW School of Medicine’s training mission and was especially proud of his students and his role as an educator of neurological surgeons, students and neuroscientists. He mentored 15 post-doctoral fellows and 20 undergraduate students, and he also served as a faculty mentor for four clinician scientists. Three of his undergraduate students were recipients of a Mary Gates Endowment research training grant and one student was accepted into and completed the NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program for Biomedical Research while attending Mount Sinai Medical School. One of his clinician scientist mentees became a department chair. In addition to this, he hosted many of our Neurological Surgery Summer Neuroscience Program students — and it was this participation that helped support our successful NIH NINDS R25 grant application. Rick was especially proud that he was awarded the Staatz Endowed Professorship by the department and School of Medicine and for being selected to give a UW School of Medicine “Science in Medicine Lecture” for distinguished faculty.

Most importantly, Rick was passionate and deeply committed to the things he cared about most: his family and friends, his colleagues, his department, neuroscience, photography and sport. He was totally dedicated to his wife, Martha, and their two girls. He was a good friend to all of us who worked with him, a great scientist and a talented artist, who became a team photographer for the Seattle Sounders. He would be equally proud to show you one of his many terrific sports photographs or one of his overpowering martial arts moves. He was a one-of-a-kind, true original in the best sense of that phrase, someone who enriched us with his deep knowledge, enthusiasm and creativity, as well as his wit. He was kind, funny and serious all at the same time, and he is someone who will be greatly missed.


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