© Copyright, 2014, J.A. McEwen
Last updated December 2014

About the Author

Portrait of James A. McEwen

James A. (Jim) McEwen received the B.A.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering (biomedical) from the University of British Columbia in 1971 and 1975 respectively. He served as a Certified Clinical Engineer (CCE) until 2010, and is currently a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and a Registered Professional Engineer (P.Eng.).

In December of 2011, he was honoured by being appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada for his contributions to biomedical engineering, notably as an inventor and entrepreneur. The Order of Canada is one of the country’s highest civilian honours, and appointment as an Officer “recognizes a lifetime of achievement and merit of a high degree, especially in service to Canada or to humanity at large.” He was also a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in April of 2012.

In 2006 he was awarded a Fellowship in the Canadian Medical and Biomedical Engineering Society, having received their Outstanding Young Canadian Biomedical Engineer early in his career. In June of 2009, he was awarded a Doctor of Science (honoris causa) degree from Simon Fraser University for ‘technological innovation combined with an entrepreneurial spirit and a profound commitment to the public good'. In May of 2011, he was awarded a Doctor of Science (honoris causa) degree from the University of British Columbia ‘for developing new medical technologies, for guiding the growth of Canada’s biomedical engineering fields and for helping improve health care’.

He founded and served as Director of the Biomedical Engineering Department at the Vancouver Hospital & Health Sciences Centre from 1975-1990. He is presently Adjunct Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Adjunct Professor of Orthopaedics, Faculty of Medicine, at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia. He also has been Adjunct Professor in the School of Engineering Science at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

He currently has over 220 patents and patent applications in the United States, Canada, Europe and other countries for a wide range of medical devices in fields including orthopaedics, anesthesia, ophthalmology, laboratory medicine and surgery.

Dr. McEwen invented the automatic tourniquet system for surgery. He and his colleagues have been awarded over 160 patents in the United States and other countries for tourniquet-related technologies, and has numerous tourniquet-related patent applications pending in the U.S. and elsewhere. He is the author or co-author of a number of papers on the subject of surgical tourniquets. Almost all modern tourniquet systems that are now used in western countries are based on the tourniquet-related inventions and subsequent developments made by Dr. McEwen and his R&D team. For example, the A.T.S. series of automated surgical tourniquet systems and related products manufactured and sold by Zimmer worldwide are based on that research and development. Also, he created Delfi Medical Innovations Inc., a Vancouver-based company, to supply specialty tourniquet-related products invented and developed by the same group. One of those products, Delfi’s military tourniquet, is now being used by military US army forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, helping to save both life and limb.

Globally, it is estimated that the automatic surgical tourniquets which Dr. McEwen and his team have invented and developed are now used in more than 17,000 surgeries daily in over 40 countries and in many different types of surgical procedures. Worldwide, it is estimated that more than 72 million surgical procedures have been performed using Dr. McEwen’s automatic tourniquet technologies and innovations. Their widespread adoption and use has resulted in significantly improved safety, quality and economy. As a result of the success and widespread impact on the public of his surgical tourniquet-related inventions, in 1997 he received the $100,000 Principal Award for Innovation in Canada from the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation.

He was one of the founders, and remains a director, of the MDDC Medical Device Development Centre, a successful not-for-profit center associated with a number of medical device companies, hospitals, universities, and similar entities, for facilitating the collaborative development and evaluation of new medical technologies. He has been an angel investor in a number of new medical technology companies, and since 2009 has served as board chair at. Sirius Genomics Inc. His main interests are in the development and evaluation of need-oriented medical technology in order to improve the quality of diagnosis and treatment, and control the costs of health care. He has been a member of industry advisory committees of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Faculty of Applied Science at the University of British Columbia, and at Simon Fraser University.

Dr. McEwen is currently a Trustee and Vice President of the Board of Trustees of the Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation, and in that capacity works to help increase public awareness of the fundamental importance of innovators and innovation to our economy and to our society. To help post-secondary educational programs, he served on the Board of Governors of the British Columbia Institute of Technology for 6 years, and to help advance the role of engineering in the economy, he served on the (BC) Premier’s Advisory Council on Science and Technology for two years.

He has also served as a President of the Board of Directors of the ALS Society of British Columbia, a Society focused on offering more help and hope to those living with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease), a fatal disease with a short life expectancy, no known cause, no cure, and few effective treatments at present. In that Society, one of his initiatives was to create a unique annual design competition to improve the quality of life of those now living with ALS. This design competition involves engineering students and their faculty supervisors at post-secondary institutions, together with ALS patients, caregivers and professionals, offering more hope and more help to those facing great adversity with courage and grace. In 2010, he was honoured with the William Fraser Leadership Development Award from the ALS Society of Canada.

© Copyright, 2014, J.A. McEwen
Last updated December 2014
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