David Gow

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David James Gow CBE (born 1957) is the inventor of the i-Limb prosthetic hand.


He was born in Dumfries in 1957 and was educated at Breconbeds School, Kirtlebridge, Annan Academy and the University of Edinburgh. He studied Mechanical Engineering from 1975 to 1979, graduating with BSc (Honours) in Engineering Science. He then worked for a year at Ferranti (Scotland) a defence contractor in Edinburgh. In January 1981 he began a research post at the University of Edinburgh lasting until 1984 when he transferred to the National Health Service (NHS). From 1993 until 2015 when he retired, he managed the Rehabilitation Technology Services for NHS Lothian and was based at the SMART Centre in Edinburgh.


He began a programme of research activities in the field of upper limb prosthetics. In 1998 he fitted a fellow Scot, Campbell Aird with an electrical arm prosthesis containing the world's first electrical shoulder. In 2002 he founded and spun out the first company from the NHS, Touch EMAS Ltd and became its first CEO. He invented the i-limb and ProDigits partial hand system (later i-limb digits, now i-digits). He and his team from the company (which became Touch Bionics in 2005) won the MacRobert Award from the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2008.[1][2]

He is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine and the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Gow was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2014 Birthday Honours for services to upper limb prosthetics.[3]

David retired from the NHS in April 2015.


He is married to Janet Brunton. His parents (both deceased) were James, and Effie (née Shankland), and he has an older sister Mary, and a younger brother, Iain. James, his father, served in the 2nd Battalion Royal Scots, and was captured by the Japanese in Hong Kong on Christmas Day 1941 - he was being transferred to Japan on the freighter Lisbon Maru when it was torpedoed and sank on 2 October 1942; he spent the remainder of the war in Japan, initially in Kobe House prisoner of war camp (Osaka #2). David is the maternal nephew of the late David Shankland, MBE, a former nursing tutor and well-known after-dinner speaker and Burns' enthusiast[1].


  1. ^ Who's Who 2012,A&C Black, London p903
  2. ^ Biography at Scottish Forum for Healthcare Science
  3. ^ "No. 60895". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 June 2014. p. b9. 

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