In Memorium: Joe Morrissey

Joe Morrissey

1 October 1963 - 6 April 2010

Our colleague, Joseph James Morrissey, was killed by an intruder to his home in the early hours of April 6, 2010.  An active member of our Society, Joe was a versatile and prolific researcher, a loyal friend, and a tireless volunteer.  Joe’s extensive knowledge and willingness to help anyone who asked led him to become a good friend and valued colleague to his peers around the world and to his co-workers at Motorola and Nova Southeastern University (NSU). 

Joe earned his bachelors (1985) and masters degree (1987) from the University of South Florida.  His masters dissertation research dealt with cloning and characterization of the gene for the detoxifying protein glutathione S-transferase in Drosophila melanogaster.  He conducted research and attended Harvard Medical School before earning his Ph.D. degree from Stanford University Medical School (1993) in molecular biology, studying molecular and biochemical characterization of the oncogene fel implicated in childhood leukemia.  For two years as a Post Doctoral Fellow at the University of Miami, he researched the role of protein kinase C phosphorylation in the regulation of the Androgen Receptor (AR) mRNA levels in androgen dependent and AR transfected androgen independent prostate tumor cell lines. 

Before joining Motorola in 1997, Joe spent two years at the Goodwin Institute in Plantation, Florida researching stress response gene expression in mice exposed to RF.  At Motorola, his initial responsibility was to assist in managing the external biological research programs.  His intellect, creativity, and work ethic allowed him to apply his talents to new areas of interest.  Joe became an expert in electromagnetic interference and compatibility with emphasis on interactions between mobile phones and medical devices, aircraft navigation/communication systems, and hearing aid compatibility issues.  Joe was the initiator of the dosiphone for RF exposure assessment in epidemiology studies. 

He was very active in numerous Standards Committees dealing with RF safety and electromagnetic compatibility, including the IEEE, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA); American National Standards Institute (ANSI), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and RTCA, a group that develops consensus-based recommendations regarding aviation system issues.  Joe served as co-chair of RTCA SC202 Working Group (WG) 6 on guidance for allowing transmitting portable electronic devices (PEDs) on aircraft; and served as chair of the following committees: CEA R7 WG 11 on recommendations for control of PEDs; ANSI ASC C63 Subcommittee 8 on standards for medical and non-medical devices; ISO TC215 WG7 on recommendations for PED compatibility in hospitals; IEEE 11073 WG 3 on health informatics and guidance for RF Wireless technology; and IEEE ICES TC95, where Joe, was instrumental in assuring that the research database was kept up-to-date for standard setting.  This effort kept him well informed of the literature, which contributed to his expertise performing critical reviews of published and presented work and writing reviews of the literature.
Following the closure of the major portion of Motorola’s RF health effects related program in 2009, Joe joined the faculty of NSU as an assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences.  In addition to his teaching duties he conducted research on cancer drugs and on the thermal sensitivity of cells in culture and whether the sensitivity can explain some of the observed in vitro RF effects.  In January, Joe organized and conducted a highly successful workshop that featured world-class experts on thermal sensitivity of tissues.

Joe was a kind and loving person devoted to his family, often adjusting work hours to meet family obligations.  He was particularly devoted to his two sons, Nicolas, age 17, by his first marriage and his five year old son, Patrick.  He is also survived by his wife Kay, mother Rosalie, and brother John.

We are truly saddened by the death of Joe at the young and productive age of 46.  His can-do attitude not only led to a productive life but made working with him a pleasure.  His keen scientific insights will be sorely missed by the Bioelectromagnetics community.

Contributed by Mays Swicord and C-K. Chou (Supervisors of Joe Morrissey during his 12 years at Motorola)

Editor's note:  Online news sources report that a father and son were recently arrested in connection with the events that lead to Dr. Morrissey's death.