Dr. John Maxwell Bowman

(1925 - 2005)



Winnipeg pediatrician John (Jack) Bowman led a world-renowned research lab, which in the 1950s developed a method to treat Rh hemolytic disease of the newborn. His discoveries saved thousands of lives and formed the basis of what is today one of Manitoba's largest corporate research and development organizations, Cangene Corporation. Dr Bowmans work exemplifies what is now known as translational research moving new discoveries and cutting edge research concepts from the lab bench into clinical practice worldwide.


John Bowman excelled early in life, winning the University Gold Medal in Medicine in 1949, as well as the Manitoba Medical Association Gold Medal for highest overall standing. Dr Bowman served his internship at Winnipeg General Hospital and Children's Hospital. He spent two years in general practice in Oakville MB, then trained as a pediatrician at the Children's Hospital in Winnipeg and at Babies Hospital, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Centre in New York. In the 1940s, along with his colleague the late Dr. Bruce Chown, Dr Bowman was one of the first scientists in the world to concentrate on the field of blood group incompatibilities. From 1966 until his retirement in 1996, Dr Bowman was the medical director of the Rh lab in the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Medicine. For 15 years, he was also provincial medical director of blood transfusion services for the Canadian Red Cross. 


In 1969, Dr Bowman co-founded the Winnipeg Rh Institute, a private, non-profit institute supporting research and development of blood and blood related products. With his assistance, the Rh Insititute introduced the column chromatographic method of blood fractionation to North America in 1972. In addition, his pioneering efforts contributed to the development and licensing in Canada in 1980 of a Rho(D) immune-globulin, now used worldwide. The trade name of the product is WinRho SD, "Win" representing Winnipeg.


Dr Bowman was a member of the subspecialty committee in neonatal-perinatal medicine at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and a member of the Manitoba Department of Health minister's advisory committee on maternal and child health. He also served as chair of the medical staff council of the Health Sciences Centre; member of the Health Sciences Centre board and executive. Dr Bowman was a distinguished professor emeritus of Pediatrics at the University of Manitoba, wrote more than 215 articles, papers and book chapters, and received dozens of awards, including the Canadian Medical Association's greatest accolade, the F.N.G. Starr Award, and the Manitoba Medical Association's Distinguished Service Award. Dr Bowman was the first recipient of the "Teddy" Award for research, presented by the Children's Hospital Research Foundation in 1983. Dr Bowman was made an officer in the Order of Canada in 1983, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1986; he received the University of Manitoba's Chancellor Peter D. Curry Award in 1990. In 1996 he was inducted into the Order of the Buffalo Hunt, the highest honour bestowed by the province of Manitoba. Active as a scientist and scholar after retirement from clinical practice, Dr Bowman gave landmark lectures on the treatment of Rh isoimmunization at neonatal centres across Canada right until his death in 2005.