Dr. Alan R. Nelson, a Salt Lake internist and endocrinologist, Sunday was named president-elect of the World Medical Association, becoming the first American to hold that position since 1963.

Nelson, whose term as president of the American Medical Association expired in June, was elected by WMA delegates during the association's 42nd assembly at the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences in Rancho Mirage, Calif.The WMA has its headquarters in Ferney-Voltaire, France, and includes members of national medical associations from 49 nations. During the WMA's assembly last week, the medical associations of the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Tunisia were accepted into membership.

In addition to his medical practice in Salt Lake City, Nelson has served as a clinical associate professor of medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine. He was elected president of the AMA in June 1989. Prior to that, he was an AMA trustee from 1980 to 1986 and chairman of the AMA Board of Trustees from 1986 to 1988.

The last American to be elected president of the WMA was Dr. Edward Annis, a Florida physician.

Policy statements adopted during the WMA assembly this year covered topics as diverse as chemical and biological weapons, traffic safety, human rights and tobacco manufacturing.