Jeremy MorrisBMJ 2009; 339 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b4679 (Published 11 November 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b4679
- Caroline Richmond
By comparing bus conductors with bus drivers and postmen with sorting office staff the epidemiologist Jerry Morris showed that exercise prevented heart attacks. He also showed the relationship between deprivation and infant mortality. In old age he did equally careful research to determine the income that elderly people need to remain healthy. He was awarded a CBE, though not the knighthood that many colleagues thought he deserved. He was a spectacular practitioner of his own research findings, walking, running, or swimming until his death from pneumonia aged 99.
He had ebullience, prodigious energy, moral principles, few vices, wit, and a talent for friendship. He devised innovative methods, said his colleague Eve Alberman: “Together with colleagues he devised I think the first validated measures of diet and exercise derived from respondents’ histories. His sampling techniques were brilliant and economical of resources. He had the highest possible standards of excellence in research and ensured that all his department’s studies reached them.”
He also had a lifelong commitment to social equality. He joined the Labour Party at 16, having been refused because of his age four years earlier, and left to join the Green Party when the then prime minister Tony Blair took Britain into the Iraq war.
Morris had a threadbare childhood in Glasgow shortly after his Polish father and Russian mother had docked in …