John H. Milsum worked at the National Research Council (Ottawa) from 1950 to 1961, with a break from 1954 to 1957 to do graduate studies in control engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1961 he came to McGill as the first Abitibi professor of control engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering.
Milsum's 1966 book Biological Control Systems Analysis is a classic and has been translated into many languages.
In 1972 Dr. Milsum moved to UBC to become the Imperial Oil professor of general systems and a professor in the Department of Health Care and Epidemiology. He became founding director of UBC's Institute of Health Promotion Research (later the Centre for Population Health Promotion Research) in 1990.
Dr. Milsum died peacefully at home in 2008 November, at age 83.
Biomedical engineering started at McGill with the founding of the BioMedical Engineering Unit in 1966, with Dr. John H. Milsum as its first director. The new Unit was originally under the joint administration of the Faculties of Engineering and Medicine, but later became part of the Faculty of Medicine only.
After Dr. Milsum moved to UBC in 1972, Dr. Charles A. Laszlo was acting director briefly and then moved to UBC himself. The next BMEU director was Dr. John S. Outerbridge, and Dr. Robert E. Kearney became director in 1985.
The BioMedical Engineering Unit became a full Department in 1989,
the first in Canada,
with Dr. Kearney as its first chair.
Dr. Henrietta L. Galiana became chair in 2005.