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KINREC CONNECT: Professor Gordon Giesbrecht

February 5, 2016 — 

Every so often, we will profile and highlight a person of interest from our faculty through an informal, off-the-cuff Q & A feature entitled KinRec Connect. This offers a chance to meet and learn about the catalysts behind our exciting and dynamic faculty.

Get to know FKRM professor Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht a little better:


Where did you grow up?

I as born in Winnipeg’s St. Boniface Hospital and grew up in Elmwood and East Kildonan. I’m a Reiver from Kildonan East.


Where did you complete your undergraduate degree?

I did my B.P.E. in our faculty. I started in 1976. Although I was in the Class of ’79, I didn’t graduate until 1985 because, after my first year, I went to Edmonton for the summer… and stayed for six years!


What teams, clubs, or groups were you a member of during your undergraduate years?

When I came back for 2nd and 3rd year, I was married and my wife was pregnant. I had to get serious and therefore, didn’t do much but study; it paid off as I earned the gold medal in 1985. By the way our first daughter was born on the day of the Biomechanics final exam; even Dr. Alexander had to accept that excuse 🙂


Where did you complete your master’s degree, what did you study, and what were your main findings?

I did my M.P.E. in our faculty. We studied rewarming methods for subject’s that we made more hypothermic than in any other ethically-approved study in the world. Our results were seminal in our ultimate proofs of the importance of shivering at lower core temperatures than previously believed, and the safety of pre-hospital application of external heat for treatment.


“I encourage my students to try to visualize the actual physiology in real time. It can be a cool experience.”


Where did you complete your Ph.D. degree, what did you study, and what were your main findings?

I studied respiratory physiology in the Dept. of Physiology, College of Medicine, University of Manitoba. One of my goals was to explain the rapid shallow breathing that occurred during pulmonary edema; interesting that after four years I still didn’t know the answer. We did however determine the effects of cold and pressure variations on the firing outputs of various lung receptors and their effect on breathing pattern. This work really helped me when I set up my own laboratory to continue to study human cold physiology.


What is your favourite course to teach and why?

Exercise Physiology. First of all, everything (including psychology) is governed by physiology (i.e., neuronal activity and connections). Second, the understanding of exercise is fundamental to so much of what we study in our faculty. It requires a prerequisite understanding of anatomy, biology and chemistry and then builds on all the body systems. You have to understand how the healthy body works before you can strengthen it or work with injury or disease states.



Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht, also known as “Professor Popsicle,” made his Letterman show splash on Feb. 19, 2004, soaking for 17 minutes in a giant tank of ice water – and had his recovery (also on the show) aided with a hand delivered cup of tea from actress Sarah Jessica Parker (blurb and photo from Winnipeg Free Press).


Who are your favourite musicians, performances, sports teams, etc?

The Beatles and the Guess Who. I was just too young to catch events like the Beatles live on the Ed Sullivan Show, so my favourite concert was Paul McCartney last year. In his 70s he sang for more than three hours and every song was a hit. His three-song encore says it all about his versatility. He sang Yesterday, Mull of Kintyre, and Helter Skelter. Who else has made hits from such divergent types of songs?

Favourite teams: the ’67 Leafs, the ’70 and ’72 Bruins, the Avco Cup winning Winnipeg Jets and the ‘80s Edmonton Oilers, we will never see a team like the Oilers again.


What are your hobbies?

I am currently on a multi-year project (a little each day) to copy the New Testament in Greek and English. I also LOVE playing hockey! My goal is to someday play in a game with all my grandchildren and son-in-law; I’ll be about 70 then.


If you could be or do anything else, what would it be?

I would like to run an NGO to either: a) free child slave workers; or b) deal with clean water and health issues in the third world.


What one word would you use to describe yourself?

Action-strategist (if it’s hyphenated, it counts as one word right?)


What are you reading at the moment?

Most recently, “Everest The First Ascent” about Dr. Griffith Pugh, a physiologist who discovered much about altitude physiology that enabled that first ascent.

Follow Dr. Giesbrecht on Twitter: @ProfPopsicle





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