Tom Chau, Ph.D., P.Eng.

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Tom Chau, PhD, PEng, is Vice President of Research, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Director of the Bloorview Research Institute, the Raymond Chang Foundation Chair in Access Innovations, and a full Professor in the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto.


He holds a doctorate from the University of Waterloo in the area of pattern analysis and machine intelligence and received post-doctoral training in pediatric rehabilitation engineering as a Duncan Gordon Fellow. From 2004-2014, he held a Canada Research Chair in Pediatric Rehabilitation Engineering. He was graduate coordinator of the Masters of Health Science Program in Clinical Engineering from 2006-2011 and was the Leader of the NSERC CREATE: Academic Rehabilitation Engineering doctoral training program from 2009-2015, both at the University of Toronto.


He has directly supervised over 80 graduate students and more than 140 undergraduate thesis and internship students. His research focusses on the investigation of novel access pathways for children and youth with severe physical impairments. Chau has published over 190 refereed scientific articles and holds 5 patents.


His lab has developed numerous innovations aimed at maximizing possibilities for children. These include: a variety of non-invasive brain-computer interfaces; 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; and a medical device to assess swallowing safety.


Several devices are being commercialized through various industry partners. Research from his lab has been featured over 150 times in national and international media including CNN, Time Magazine, ITN (UK), Discovery Channel, and Report on Business. Chau was the lead editor of “Pediatric Rehabilitation Engineering: From Disability to Possibility”, published by CRC/Taylor & Francis in 2010.


Chau’s contributions to pediatric rehabilitation have been recognized with the Meritorious Service Cross (2017), March of Dimes Dr. Jonas Salk Award (2016), 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 and a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering (2017). He was appointed to the Order of Ontario in 2018.

Tom Chau