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.

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.