Careers and Fate

John Hopps was a native of Winnipeg Canada.  He obtained an Electrical Engineering degree and began his career with the Canadian National Research Council.

One of his first projects was to research the use of radio frequencies to pasteurize beer.  When he was asked to suspend this study to work at the Banting Institute, he resisted.  He thought that the pasteurization of beer was a vital study that needed his attention.

He joined a research team of Wilfred Bigelow and John Callaghan to study how low temperature could slow down the heart to allow for surgery.  The research team needed to find out how to get the heart to contract under low temperature conditions.  Hopps discovered that an electrical impulse would get the heart to contract and if impulses were repeated, the contraction could be sustained over a sustained period of time. Contraction is critical to the pumping of blood to the body.

Hopps’ discovery led to the development of the cardiac pacemaker.  Originally, the first pacemakers were about the size of a microwave.  Eventually, the pacemaker was reduced in size so it could be placed in the body.

While Hopps considered his assignment to the Banting Institute to be an intrusion on his career, in fact the work on the pacemaker changed Hopps’ life and he became known as the father of biomedical engineering in Canada.  He was the founder of the Canadian Medical and Biological Engineering Society.  He went on to do pioneering work to enrich the lives of people who were blind.  Other efforts included support for those with muscular disabilities.  He also advanced a number of technologies for cardiac care.

Thirty years after inventing the pacemaker, Hopps needed his own device to deal with a heart condition.

Fate has a way of directing our life’s work and eventual legacy.  John Hopps thought that his move to the Banting Institute was a career distraction when in fact it was the beginning of his legacy.  How often do we see changes imposed upon us as negatives when in fact they may become breakthrough opportunities?  And how do we know?  Fate and faith are bound together.  Without faith, fate may never work its magic.

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“Fate leads the willing and drags along the reluctant.” – Seneca (Roman dramatist and politician)

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