Alexander B. Morrison concerns himself with matters of life and death. He is a scientist whose heart, mind, and strength are devoted to curing and eliminating disease and malnutrition. And as a new member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Morrison is equally concerned with spiritual health.
“One of the great passions of my life,” he says, “is my concern for the poor and neglected and downtrodden.” Trained in nutrition and pharmacology, Dr. Morrison has directed several international committees in the World Health Organization, has led groups of Nobel prizewinning scientists, and is chairman of his department at the University of Guelf in Canada, where he teaches.
As a public health generalist, his work has had three dimensions. First, in his academic role at the university, he has attempted to prepare others to eliminate the diseases that take hundreds of millions of lives yearly.
Second, as an administrator of public policy regarding environmental and food safety in his post with the Health Protection Branch of the Canadian government, he has promoted laws and helped regulate the use of environmental contaminants.
The third dimension of his work, and perhaps the one closest to his heart, has been his effort to fight diseases in underdeveloped countries. In the World Health Organization, he chaired for many years the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee to the Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases. This group works with twenty countries in the United Nations to eliminate diseases affecting millions.
His international work was recognized in 1984 when he became the first recipient of the David M. Kennedy International Service Award from the Kennedy International Center at Brigham Young University.
Brother Morrison and his wife, the former Shirley Brooks, joined the Church during college as soon as they discovered that earth life was for learning and eternally progressing, that the glory of God is intelligence, and that marriage is eternal. The branch president at the time was N. Eldon Tanner, and their Sunday School teacher was Hugh B. Brown. Since then, Elder Morrison has served as branch president, bishop, and regional representative. The Morrisons have eight children, two of whom—Mary and Heather—will go with them to their new assignment.
Born in Edmonton, Alberta, 22 December 1930, Dr. Morrison, fifty-six, is described by those who have worked with him as a man gifted with human understanding as well as the ability to analyze technical aspects of health needs. He earned his Ph. D. from Cornell University in 1956, then nine years later obtained a master’s degree in pharmacology, to keep him abreast of the developments in drug research for prevention of diseases. Having been to Africa many times to study the problems there, he has devoted himself to finding cures to major deadly diseases.
“I carry victims’ faces in my mind as I brush my teeth and rinse my mouth with water whose purity I take for granted. I feel jungle heat on my skin as I move through air-conditioned corridors. I remember what starvation looks like as I sit down to abundance three times a day.
“Carrying this burden keeps me, on the most fundamental of all levels, human,” he says with moist eyes and emotion in his voice.
From public health to spiritual health, Elder Alexander B. Morrison is a man of deep devotion. As a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, his intense interest in the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of his earthly brothers and sisters takes on another dimension.