Jack E. Taunton
BSc (Honours) and MSc in Kinesiology
Medical Director and Sports Medicine Director at Fortius Sport and Health
Professor, Sport and Exercise Medicine UBC
Dr Taunton was a charter student at SFU studying math and history. He was also a student athlete playing football and soccer and was a distance runner. He switched to Kinesiology due to a keen interest in athletic performance and was one of a class of six students. Dr Taunton completed an honours degree with a research project carried out at Vancouver General Hospital. This was on the use of Hyperbaric oxygen and the ability to exercise under increased atmospheric pressure breathing oxygen and the use of the findings in medicine for the treatment of diving bends, anaerobic infections, wound healing and cardiac transplants. This lead him to do an MSc at SFU on one of the first cardiac rehabilitation programmes in Canada. With a push from Dr Eric Banister and Dr Bill Trapp (VGH Head of Cardiothoracic Surgery) he applied to medical school. "I knew how to work hard and was, at the time, training for the national marathon trials in a bid to go the Olympic Games. I did very well in medical school at UBC and was awarded the Gold Medal on graduation. I wanted to pursue Sport and Exercise Medicine but there were no programmes available. I joined a medical practice with my coach, Dr Doug Clement and we increased our practice to become exclusive sport and exercise medicine physicians. We began to create a curriculum and were approached by the Dean of Medicine, Head of Family Practice and Chair of the School of Human Kinetics at UBC to develop a programme based on patient care, education and research. We established a post graduate fellowship programme. I gained valuable experience as a team physician for field hockey, the Vancouver Grizzlies, the Canucks and the Canadians Baseball team. I was Chief Medical Officer for the Canadian team for two Pan American Games, two World Student Games and the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. As the Chief Medical Officer for the 2010 Olympic Winter and Paralympic Games, I led the planning and delivery of all medical and anti-doping services for athletes and emergencies and public health services for spectators, 25,000 volunteers, 10,000 workforce and 10,000 media. I had a tremendous team and we were told by the IOC and IPC we delivered the best medical and anti-doping services of any Olympic and Paralympic Games."
"I continue to teach, see patients and am lucky to be involved in cutting edge research on injury treatment and prevention. I was honoured to be inducted into the SFU Sports Hall of Fame, the Burnaby Sports Hall of Fame, the BC Athletics Hall of Fame and this September I will be inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame. Thirty years ago, when I was President of the Sport Medicine Council of Canada, I founded Sportmed BC; this year I co-founded the BC Sport Cardiology Foundation. I also co-founded the Vancouver Marathon, and with Dr Doug Clement (my partner), Diane Clement and my wife Cheryl, the Vancouver Sun Run. I have also worked with a great team to found the UBC Grand Prix (a pro/amateur bike race day). All of these were begun as a means to promote sport for elite athletes, developmental athletes, recreational athletes and the masses to enhance their opportunities, their health and their well-being. A hobby gone wild. I completed 62 marathons. I have attended many Olympic, Commonwealth, Pan American and World Student Games and World Championships as a physician and once as a coach. I co-founded the Allan McGavin Sports Medicine Centre at UBC and am very involved as the Medical Director and Sports Medicine Director at Fortius Sport and Health in Burnaby. I have been lucky to have had a tremendous team of graduate students, researchers and practitioners working with me."
Why did you choose to go to SFU?
SFU was just opening and I liked its strong link to athletics and academics and the excellent facilities for both.
Where did you spend the most amount of time on campus?
Studying in the library and rotunda and working out in the gym. Later years in the Kinesiology Lab in the gym.
What is your favourite memory from your time at SFU?
Kinesiology Labs, practicing football and the long runs around the campus on Joe’s trails.
Who was your favourite SFU professor and why?
Dr Eric Banister – he was my mentor and MSc supervisor for my thesis in cardiac rehabilitation. He made you think outside the box.
How has your SFU degree impacted your career?
My Honors thesis at the Hyperbaric Unit at VGH and my Master’s thesis in Cardiac Rehabilitation led me to be the first SFU Kinesiology student in the UBC medical school. I have been involved in sport and exercise medicine my entire medical career and my start at SFU gave me the confidence to apply to medicine.
What is your favourite SFU snow story?
Being stuck on Duthie during the Christmas break due to lack of snow clearing and having to walk up to the campus through 3 feet of snow. Also training (running) in the concourse when it snowed.
If you could give advice to students today, what would you tell them?
Follow your passion and don’t be afraid to take a change of direction. I was initially enrolled in math and history and had no plans to go into medicine. The Kinesiology programme at SFU changed all that for me.
What is the one thing about SFU that must not change?
Integrating classroom academics and hands on learning.