We recently lost our esteemed colleague Stephen Morrison after a prolonged illness. Stephen was a highly regarded Thoracic and Sleep Physician who excelled as a clinician, researcher, administrator and advocate. It is hard to do justice to Stephen’s career but I, would like to briefly reflect upon his immense contribution to Thoracic and Sleep Medicine and in the lives of his colleagues and friends.
Stephen obtained his medical degree from Cambridge University, and undertook his post-graduate specialty training, including a PhD, in the UK, South Africa and Canada. His love of respiratory physiology was nurtured at the prestigious McMaster University in Canada. Stephen’s PhD examined exercise and recovery physiology – a challenging area of respiratory medicine that he taught generations of physicians with consummate ease throughout his career.
He commenced his specialist career in 1981 at Groote Schuur Hospital Cape Town, and in 1988 he was appointed as the Director of The Thoracic And Sleep Medicine, Department of the Royal Brisbane Hospital, a position he held till his death. In 2007 he became the Medical Director of Respiratory and Sleep Specialists (soon to become Genesis SleepCare).
Stephen was a most caring and compassionate doctor who prioritised patient care. His many appointments to both local and national advisory boards and committees( including but not confined to the Statewide Respiratory Clinical Network, the Asthma Foundation of Queensland and the Queensland Health Sleep Disorders Statewide Clinical Review Committee) in the respiratory and sleep medicine arena, reflected the high esteem in which he was held by peers. Stephen understood better than many the collegiate nature of medicine and was always striving to promote a cohesive and positive working environment for his colleagues.
Research and teaching were always close to Stephen’s heart. He was a prolific researcher, who has published widely, across his career. He understood the key role research provides in informing our clinical practice and it was a measure of his administrative ability and dedication that he was able to foster high quality research through the Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital, University of Queensland and GenesisCare. Many of us, myself included, have had the honour of being taught and mentored by Stephen. His grasp of respiratory physiology was unsurpassed, and it was something to behold watching Stephen recite and simply explain physiologic concepts that in a textbook seemed abstract and almost incomprehensible to most.
As Medical Director of Genesis SleepCare, Stephen was instrumental in the attainment of NATA accreditation. He spent a great deal of time with scientists and trainees and helped ensure that the clinical service was of the highest quality. He has been an integral member of the Clinical Management Committee over the best part of the decade.
For the past thirty years he has held the position of Director of Thoracic and Sleep Medicine at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. Stephen deft leadership transformed the RBWH into an outstanding Thoracic and Sleep unit.
Stephen used his skill and influence as a very effective advocate. He was incredibly supportive of scientific staff, administrative staff, junior medical staff and colleagues. One always had the sense that Stephen ‘was in your corner’. He was an elder statesman of our profession whose advice and counsel was regularly sought by doctors of all disciplines and ages. He championed the importance of respiratory and sleep disorders across many forums and through his role as ASMOFQ president sought to better work conditions for fellow doctors.
Stephen had many interests outside of medicine. He was an accomplished marathon runner and an intrepid traveller, It was always obvious that Stephen remained dedicated and very close to his family. He is survived by Deb and his children – Justin, Michelle, Oriel, Emily and Sarah. It is hard not to overstate the influence he has had on many of us in the Thoracic and Sleep field and he will be sorely missed.
Dr Justin Hundloe