Dr. Joseph Russell Elkinton, physician and former editor of one of the world’s top medical journals, the Annals of Internal Medicine, died Saturday at Emerson Hospital in Concord. He was 91.

Elkinton died in his sleep, said his daughter, Gweneth E. Loud.

Elkinton became editor of the Annals of Internal Medicine, the journal of the American College of Physicians, in 1960. He helped make the publication one of the world’s leading medical journals, and served until he retired in 1971.

Born in Moylan, Pa., Elkinton graduated from Haverford College in 1932 and Harvard Medical School in 1937. He interned at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, where he also completed his residency in 1940 before working eight years as a research fellow and assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine.

He returned to Philadelphia in 1948 and founded the chemical section at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

A Quaker, he was interested in the relationship between science and religion, and wrote about medical ethics and social questions, including “The Quaker Heritage in Medicine,” which he wrote with Robert Clark.

After his retirement, Elkinton and his wife, Teresa Sturge, moved to England, where they spent 15 years before returning to Bedford, Mass.

He leaves a daughter, Gwyneth E. Loud of Lincoln; a son, Joseph S. of Amherst; a brother, David C. of Newtown Square, Pa.; and five grandchildren.

–Associated Press