PennVet | In Memoriam
New Bolton Center Kennett Square, PA
Emergencies & Appointments:
Ryan Hospital Philadelphia, PA

In Memoriam

Published: Nov 1, 2021

Adrian R. Morrison

Dr. Adrian MorrisonDr. Adrian R. Morrison, Professor Emeritus of Behavioral Neuroscience in the Department of Animal Biology (currently Biomedical Sciences), passed away on August 4.

Morrison was a BA graduate in Biology from Franklin and Marshall College (1957). He earned Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (1960) and Master of Science in Anatomy (1962) degrees from Cornell University, and his PhD in Anatomy (1962) from Penn. Prior to joining the faculty ranks at Penn, he completed postdoctoral training in Pisa, Italy, which at the time was the leading center of research on the neural basis of wakefulness and sleep and the origin of groundbreaking concepts of the role of reticular formation in these fundamental brain processes.

When he joined Penn Vet in 1966, Morrison was a part of a larger contingent of freshly educated in modern biomedical sciences group of future Penn professors, all now retired, who left their unique marks on various aspects of neurology, including Neuroanatomy, Neuropathology, Clinical Veterinary Small Animal Neurology, Equine Neurology, and Neural Control of Breathing.

At Penn, he was a member of the University Senate and served on the Executive Committee of the Institute of Neurological Sciences. He was one of the leaders of the Anatomy Graduate Group that subsequently transformed into the Neuroscience Graduate Group, and a founding member of the Center for Sleep and Respiratory Neurobiology that then became the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology, and more recently evolved into the Circadian and Sleep Institute. He played a major role in establishing sleep research at Penn and making Penn one of the leading academic institutions in this field. 

Morrison’s research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and various foundations. Among his research awards was the MERIT Award (1987-1998) given by the National Institute of Mental Health to the most outstanding biomedical scientist to support 10 years of undisturbed research. His most notable scientific achievements included the investigation of rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep that could strikingly occur in his animal models without being accompanied by the loss of muscle tone (atonia). His findings in this area provided the mechanistic basis for the subsequent identification of a distinct neurological condition affecting humans and called REM sleep behavior disorder.

The recipient of many prestigious awards, Morrison was also an outstanding and admired mentor to many undergraduate and graduate students and postdocs and a creative teacher. For example, before the time of computers or video, he developed a unique method of acting out the development of the rumen and the descent of the testes using a lab coat as a didactic aid. He and his fellow professor, Dr. Peter Hand, became known as the “ARM & HAND” team of teachers of Veterinary Anatomy.

A passionate defender of humane use of animals in biomedical research, he took a break from his research to serve as director of the Program for Animal Research Issues at the National Institute of Mental Health from 1992 to 1994. In this role, he published dozens of commentaries, editorials, and philosophical position statements.

Morrison published two books: An Odyssey with Animals: A Veterinarian’s Reflections on the Animal Rights & Welfare Debate and Brandywine Boy.

The Penn community and the sleep research community worldwide are fortunate to have benefitted from Morrison’s wisdom, generosity, and creativity.  


Randall K. Crossan

Randall K. Crossan, a member of the Facilities team at New Bolton Center, died on June 3. He was 62.

Crossan was a graduate of Unionville High School. He worked at New Bolton Center for 45 years. Crossan is survived by his mother; his daughters Melanie Vaughan and Angela Pringle; his grandson Timothy Vaughan; his sisters Tina McLennan and Tami Bush; and two nieces and two nephews.

A memorial service was held on June 13, 2021, at New Bolton Center. Contributions can be made in his memory to the Friends of New Bolton Center, 382 W. Street Road, Kennett Square, PA 19348.