• Dr. Tom Chau wins prestigious Jonas Salk Awar...
  • June 15, 2016

    Dr. Tom Chau wins prestigious Jonas Salk Award from March of Dimes

    Every year, March of Dimes Canada honours a member of the scientific community at its annual Ability & Beyond Dinner. The Jonas Salk Award is presented to a Canadian scientist, physician or researcher for outstanding scientific contributions that alleviate, prevent, or eliminate a disabling condition.

    This year’s recipient is Dr. Tom Chau. As Vice President of Research and Director of the Bloorview Research Institute at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Dr. Chau leads the Pediatric Rehabilitation Intelligent Systems Multidisciplinary, or PRISM, Laboratory which focuses on discovering, designing, and evaluating ways to help children and youth with complex disabilities interact with their environment, share their preferences, and communicate with people around them.

    "Dr. Chau has helped give a voice to children who would otherwise not be able to communicate," says Andria Spindel, President and CEO of March of Dimes Canada. "His work offers these kids a say in their world, their lives, their day to day activities. It’s an immense and precious gift, and we are so pleased to be able to recognize Dr. Chau’s incredible dedication to improving lives."

    “I want to thank the March of Dimes for this prestigious award, which recognizes, in part, the incredible contributions that many families, graduate students, post-docs, clinicians and children have made to our research program over the years,” says Dr. Chau. “The Jonas Salk award affirms our collective urgency to find a voice for each child given his or her unique physical or cognitive abilities and personal environment.”

    The Jonas Salk Award was initiated in 1994 to honour scientists who, like Dr. Salk, are also humanitarians. Dr. Chau will accept the Jonas Salk Award at March of Dimes Canada’s annual Ability & Beyond Dinner on June 15, 2016.

    Dr. Chau's recent research has focused on the investigation of novel access pathways for children and youth with severe physical impairments. He is also a full Professor in the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto. From 2004-2014, he held a Canada Research Chair in Pediatric Rehabilitation Engineering. He also holds the Raymond Chang Foundation Chair in Access Innovations. He was the lead editor of “Pediatric Rehabilitation Engineering: From Disability to Possibility”, published by CRC/Taylor & Francis in 2010. To date, he has directly supervised over 60 graduate students and more than 120 undergraduate thesis and internship students.

    Dr. Chau has published over 175 refereed scientific articles and holds five patents, and his lab has developed numerous innovations aimed at maximizing possibilities for children. These include: the Virtual Music Instrument, a software tool that allows children of all abilities to access music; numerous alternative access switches that harness physiological or biomechanical signals from the body; a novel prosthetic control system, and a medical device to assess swallowing safety.

    Tom’s contributions to pediatric rehabilitation have been recognized with accolades such as the March of Dimes Dr. Jonas Salk Award (2015), Health Technology Exchange's Mickey Milner Award (2014), a Product Utilization Support and Help (PUSH) Award from the University of Buffalo’s Center on Knowledge Translation for Technology Transfer (2012), a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012), a Da Vinci Award for adaptive and assistive technology from the US National Multiple Sclerosis Society (2009), Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 (2007), For Kids Sake Award from Today’s Parent Magazine (2006), Maclean’s Magazine’s Honor Roll (2006), and Engineering Medal – Young Engineer from Professional Engineers Ontario (2005). In 2011, he was named by the Globe & Mail as one of 25 Transformational Canadians. Chau was elected as a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering in 2014.

    Many congratulations to Dr. Tom Chau!


    Read more in an article from the Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) and UHN.