Tom Chau, Ph.D.

AIMBE College of Fellows Class of 2014
For outstanding contributions to rehabilitation engineering, particularly, in the creation of innovative access technologies for children and youth with disabilities.

U of T Engineering professor Tom Chau awarded Order of Ontario

Via University of Toronto | January 29, 2018

Professor Tom Chau (IBBME) has been awarded the Order of Ontario, the province’s highest honour. Created in 1986, appointees are selected based on excellence in all fields of endeavours and backgrounds, whose contributions have left a lasting legacy in Ontario.

Chau has dedicated nearly two decades of his career to creating unique communication tools and technologies for children with complex disabilities. As a biomedical engineer, Chau’s research is grounded in treating communication as a fundamental human right and develops innovations that adapt to a person’s unique abilities and needs.

“Tom’s extraordinary dedication to paediatric rehabilitation has helped improve the lives of many children and their loved ones, and he has also inspired a number of students to pursue this important work,” said Professor Warren Chan, director of the Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) at the University of Toronto. “Congratulations — this recognition is well deserved… Continue reading.


Professor Tom Chau, U of T Engineering alumni awarded Governor General Meritorious Service Decoration

Via University of Toronto | December 12, 2017

U of T Engineering Professor Tom Chau (IBBME) and his research team, including alumni Eric Wan (CompE 1T0, ECE MASc 1T3) and Pierre Duez (EngSci 0T0, MASc IndE 0T3), have been recognized with one of Canada’s highest honours, the Governor General’s Meritorious Service Cross (Civil Division). The decoration recognizes Canadians for exceptional deeds that bring honour to the country.

The decoration recognizes Chau and a team of interdisciplinary researchers from the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital for their creation of the Virtual Music Instrument (VMI).

Developed in 2003, VMI helps individuals with complex disabilities express themselves and experience the benefits of music therapy—including an increased self-esteem and sense of personal accomplishment. To date, the VMI has improved the lives of kids and families in over seven countries worldwide… Continue reading.


Remarkable U of T Engineering alumni honoured

Via University of Toronto | November 9, 2017

Tom Chau (IBBME) – 2017 2T5 Mid-Career Achievement Award recipient

Ten exemplary members of U of T Engineering’s alumni community were recognized on Thursday, Nov. 2 at the Engineering Alumni Network (EAN) Awards.

The ceremony, held annually at the Great Hall at Hart House, celebrates alumni for their outstanding contributions to the Skule™ community as well as their remarkable career achievements.

“These alumni are exceptional ambassadors of Faculty in industry, government, entrepreneurship and academia,” said Dean Cristina Amon. “Their tremendous contributions to their fields and to our Faculty are testament to the strength of our alumni community. On behalf of our U of T Engineering community, I would like to extend my most heartfelt gratitude and warmest congratulations… Continue reading.


Tom Chau inducted into the Canadian Academy of Engineering

Via University of Toronto | June 27, 2017

Professor Tom Chau has been inducted as a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering (CAE). He is one of nine professors and alumni from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering and 50 engineers across Canada to be inducted this year.

The CAE is a national institution through which Canada’s most distinguished and experienced engineers provide strategic advice on matters of critical importance to Canada. The new CAE fellows were inducted on June 26 in Ottawa, as part of the Academy’s Annual General Meeting and Symposium.

In addition to his role as a U of T biomedical engineering professor, Chau is also a senior scientist and the vice-president of research at the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. He leads the Paediatric Rehabilitation Intelligent Systems Multidisciplinary (PRISM) Lab to develop assistive technologies that give children and youth with severe physical limitations the ability to communicate independently… Continue reading.


Tom Chau Receives March of Dimes Canada Lifetime Achievement Award

Via U. Toronto | June 15, 2016

Professor Tom Chau (IBBME) has won the 2016 Jonas Salk Pioneer Award for his sustained scientific contributions to improving the lives of people with disabilities. Established in 1994, the award is presented annually by March of Dimes Canada to a Canadian scientist, physician or researcher who has made a new and outstanding contribution to prevent, alleviate or eliminate a physical disability.

Chau is a professor at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) and vice president of research at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. He leads the Paediatric Rehabilitation Intelligent Systems Multidisciplinary (PRISM) Laboratory, which develops sensing, signal processing and machine-learning methods that enable children and youth with various disabilities to communicate and interact with their environment.

One of his major scientific contributions is the Virtual Music Instrument (VMI), a web-camera interface that detects motion and reflects the user’s image on a monitor, allowing the slightest of movements to produce music on a computer by touching virtual shapes projected on the screen. The sequences can then be customized according to the needs of the individual for specific therapy or educational goals. The VMI technology was licensed in 2009 and has since been used in rehabilitation centres around the world.


IBBME Professor Appointed Vice-President of Research and Director of the Bloorview Research Institute

Via University of Toronto Engineering | February 6, 2012

ssociate Professor Tom Chau (IBBME) has been appointed Vice President of Research and Director of the Bloorview Research Institute at the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, effective April 1.

“He is recognized as a bright and accomplished leader, who has achieved success and recognition for his research at Holland Bloorview,” stated Sheila Jarvis, President and CEO of Holland Bloorview. “He demonstrates passion, tenacity and commitment to children and youth with disabilities and their families.”
Associate Professor Chau, who has been at Holland Bloorview since 1999, will be a member of the senior management team guiding Holland Bloorview in achieving its vision of a world of possibilities for children and youth with disabilities. As Director of the Bloorview Research Institute, he will lead a team of scientists advancing new knowledge in innovative treatments and technologies, as well as models of participation and inclusion.


Giving Children with Physical Challenges the Tools to Speak Out

Via University of Toronto Engineering | January 7, 2011

Professor Tom Chau (EngSci 9T2) of the Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering has been chosen as one of 25 Transformational Canadians.

The Globe and Mail’s Transformational Canadians program celebrates 25 living citizens who have made a difference by immeasurably improving the lives of others. Over several weeks this past autumn, a panel of six judges selected 25 Transformational Canadians from among the nominees.

In the late 1990s, Professor Chau , a biomedical engineer, was making a good living as a technical consultant for IBM. He had recently graduated from the University of Waterloo with a PhD in systems design engineering, and found the job financially and intellectually rewarding.

But the Toronto native kept thinking about his childhood, when he and his four siblings would volunteer with their mother at a local palliative care hospital. “It was always part of our life, and it was something that I was starting to miss,” Professor Chau remembers.