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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.

So he quit IBM and called up Toronto’s Bloorview Research Institute. While completing his master’s degree in engineering Professor Chau had collaborated with a scientist at Bloorview, a division of Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital that develops assistive technologies and other solutions for disabled children.

Now senior scientist and Canada Research Chair in Paediatric Rehabilitation Engineering at Bloorview, Professor Chau leads a 30-member team that brings together scientists with clinicians such as occupational and musical therapists. Over the past decade, the group has invented several life-changing devices.

One early success was the Virtual Music Instrument (VMI). Designed for children who can’t hold an instrument, this software allows them to play music by sitting in front of a TV screen that translates their movements and gestures into notes. Bloorview has also developed a low-cost prosthetic knee joint and a lightweight, waterproof prosthetic hand for paediatric use.

Read the full article on The Globe and Mail website.

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