Tom Chau receives Governor General’s Innovation Award

Tom Chau with students

Professor Tom Chau, a University of Toronto paediatric rehabilitation engineer, has been named a 2018 Governor General’s Innovation Award recipient for contributions to country’s success and inspiring the next generation. (Photo: Neil Ta).

May 14, 2018 | By Luke Ng, with files from Sasha Babakhanova

Professor Tom Chau has been announced as a recipient of the 2018 Governor General’s Innovation Award. The honour celebrates outstanding Canadians who contribute to the country’s success, its future and inspire the next generation.

Chau, a professor in the University of Toronto’s Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (IBBME), has been distinctly recognized for his contributions to the field of paediatric rehabilitation engineering over the last several years. In January 2018, he was awarded the Order of Ontario, and in 2017, Chau and several members of his team received the Governor General’s Meritorious Service Cross (Civil Division) for their development of the Virtual Music Instrument, a device that helps individuals with complex disabilities express themselves and experience the benefits of music therapy.

“It’s exciting that innovations in the field of childhood disability are being recognized by the Governor General as important to Canada’s success and future,” said Chau. “Indeed, this award affirms our vision of no boundaries for children and youth living with disabilities and their families, and the value of their voices in Canadian society.”

Chau, who is also a senior scientist and the vice-president of research at the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, has received more than 31 international and national awards for the impact of his research and leadership, including the 2016 Jonas Salk Pioneer Award from March of Dimes Canada for his sustained scientific contributions to improving the lives of people with disabilities, and induction as a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineers. In 2011, he was named by the Globe and Mail as one of 25 Transformational Canadians.

“Congratulations Tom on another well-deserved recognition of your research excellence and dedication to training our students,” said Professor Warren Chan, director of IBBME. “Rehabilitation engineering is an important research area in IBBME and colleagues like Tom have advanced our endeavours in this field.”

“MaRS is honoured to play a role in highlighting and celebrating Canada’s most talented and creative innovators. These awards provide an important platform for recognizing their outstanding contributions to Canada and the world,” said Yung Wu, CEO of MaRS Discovery District and an award nominating partner. “Congratulations Tom and thank you for your work in transforming the lives of children, youth and families living with disabilities in this country and across the globe.”

This is the second time that the Governor General’s Innovation Award has been presented to a U of T Engineering faculty member. In 2017, IBBME professor Paul Santerre was recognized for his contributions to biomaterials research that improves the safety and effectiveness of medical devices, and for sharing his commercialization expertise with students through U of T’s Health Innovation Hub (H2i).

“I am delighted that a U of T engineer will be honoured with this prestigious award for the second consecutive year, underscoring our Faculty’s commitment to addressing important challenges in human health,” said Cristina Amon, dean of the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. “On behalf of the Faculty, my heartfelt congratulations to Professor Chau on this richly deserved recognition.”

Chau will be officially presented with the Governor General’s Innovation Award on May 23 at a ceremony in Ottawa.