Professor John P Paul, 1927-2013

Posted on December 20, 2013
prof j p paul

Professor John P Paul

Professor John Paul, a former ISB President passed away Wednesday, November 13 2013 at the age of 86.  John Paul contributed to biomechanics in many ways, he published important papers, helped form and lead an influential department, and had leadership roles in societies and standards committees.

John Paul was raised in Old Kilpatrick, Scotland.  He studied as a school boy at Alan Glen’s School, a secondary school in Glasgow.  As an undergraduate he studied Mechanical Engineering at the Royal College of Science and Technology.  In 1962 he was a founding member of the Bioengineering Unit at the Royal College of Science and Technology.  In 1964 the Royal College merged with the Scottish College of Commerce to form the University of Strathclyde.  He was to remain at the University for the rest of his career, and was the head of their Bioengineering Unit from 1977 to 1992.

Early in his stay at the University of Strathclyde he formed a collaboration with an orthopaedic surgeon who wanted design assistance for pins to secure fractured femurs.  This project spurred his research on the forces transmitted by bones.  His work in this area became a classic source.  He went on to perform fundamental work on prosthesis design.  In acknowledgement of his many research achievements the ISB awarded him the Muybridge Medal in 1997.  Invited lectures include the joint Royal Academy of Engineering/ Royal Society of Edinburgh meeting in 1977, the Carl Hirsch Lecture of the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm in 1995, Institution of Mechanical Engineering Donald Julius Groen Lecture in 1991, and he was awarded the W.W. Marriner Medal of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland for his lecture in 2002.

In recognition of his research and administrative achievements he was appointed an honorary member of the ISB.  His many other honors include fellowships of,

  • Royal Academy of Engineering
  • Royal Society of Edinburgh
  • Institution of Mechanical Engineers
  • International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics
  • Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine

He was also a Companion Fellow of the British Orthopaedic Association.

Ironically for someone who made many contributions to the design of prosthetics he had four hip replacements, the first at 51 years of age, and one knee replacement.  Some of us may remember him attending the ISB Congress in Cape Town and getting around on elbow crutches.

Of course many of us may be familiar with John Paul’s achievements related to academe, but he was also a good athlete, playing rugby union well into his thirties, before becoming a referee.  He was the father of three (Gillian, Graham and Fiona), and the grandfather to five.

Biomechanics has benefitted from his research and administrative efforts - his contributions will continue to be influential.


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