Jonas Salk Awards Recipients


Dr. Milos Popovic

Dr. Milos PopovicThis year, we were honored to name world-renowned Dr. Milos Popovic as our Jonas Salk Award recipient. Dr. Popovic is a neurorehabilitation researcher who developed a life-changing device known as MyndMove, a non-invasive, easy-to-use device for individuals suffering from upper-limb paralysis following stroke or spinal cord injury. Dr. Popovic was recognized for his visionary leadership, his innovation in developing neurotechnological applications, and as a scientist who continuously seeks to translate his research to real impact.

Dr. Popovic holds many different positions, which reflect his leadership qualities and wealth of field knowledge. Currently, he is the Institute Director of Research at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, Co-founder and Director of the CentRe for Advancing Neurotechnological Innovation to Application (CRANIA), tenured professor at the Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) at the University of Toronto, founder of the Rehabilitation Engineering Lab, and founder of his start-up company, MyndTec Inc – to name a few. Dr. Popovic also holds a Master’s of Science in Electrical Engineering and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering.

Throughout his illustrious career, Dr. Popovic has demonstrated he is committed to improving lives and furthering the field of rehabilitation engineering. Aside from MyndMove, he has also developed grasping, walking, sitting and standing neuroprostheses for stroke and spinal cord injured patients. Dr. Popovic also recently co-founded the CentRe for Advancing Neurotechnological Innovation to Application (CRANIA), focusing on the field of neuromodulation. CRANIA bridges the University Health Network and University of Toronto, thereby allowing for collaborative, multidisciplinary work. Finally, Dr. Popovic is also an effective mentor, with twelve of his trainees going on to become university professors.


Dr. Mindy F. Levin

Jonas Salk Award winner Dr Mindy LevinThe 2017 Jonas Salk Award was awarded to Dr. Mindy F. Levin.
Dr. Levin is a physiotherapist and Professor in the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy at McGill University. She is one of Canada’s best known physiotherapist-educator-researchers in the field of motor control and neurological rehabilitation and has held a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Motor Recovery and Rehabilitation (2005-2012).

Dr. Levin trained as a physiotherapist at McGill University (B.Sc. 1976) and specialized in neurological rehabilitation before obtaining a M.Sc. followed by a Ph.D. in Physiology from McGill University in 1990. She completed her post-doctoral studies at the Neurological Science Research Centre in the Department of Physiology at the University of Montreal.

Dr. Levin was recognized for her research which provides key insights on the recovery of movement in people with acquired brain injuries. Her work has revealed how patients with neurological disorders adapt their movement patterns to perform motor tasks. Her more recent studies have focused on understanding how deficits in the ability to rapidly correct errors during reaching movements affects actual arm use in people post stroke. Dr. Levin has designed innovative treatment interventions such as virtual reality to retrain upper limb motor ability in people with stroke and cerebral palsy.

YouTube video - Meet Dr. Mindy Levin:

YouTube video - Meet Dr. Mindy Levin 


Dr. Tom Chau

Dr Tom Chau Jonas Salk Award Recipient

The recipient of the Jonas Salk Award in 2016 was Dr. Tom Chau. As Vice President of Research and Director of the Bloorview Research Institute at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Dr. Chau leads the Pediatric Rehabilitation Intelligent Systems Multidisciplinary, or PRISM, Laboratory. His work focuses on discovering, designing, and evaluating ways to help children and youth with complex disabilities interact with their environment, share their preferences, and communicate with people around them.

"Dr. Chau has helped give a voice to children who would otherwise not be able to communicate," says Andria Spindel, President and CEO of March of Dimes Canada. "His work offers these kids a say in their world, their lives, their day to day activities. It’s an immense and precious gift, and we are so pleased to be able to recognize Dr. Chau’s incredible dedication to improving lives."

Dr. Chau is a greatly respected and inspiring thought leader in the area of rehabilitation. He advocates for, and practices, family-centered care, and reflects in every way the attributes required of a recipient of the Jonas Salk Award.


Dr. Jean-Pierre Julien

Dr. JeanDr. Jean-Pierre Julien  is th​e Director of Axis Integrative Neurosciences at  the Research Centre of Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Québec (IUSMQ), affiliated with Université Laval. He is among the leading researchers in the field of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).  ALS is a degenerative disorder that results in progressive paralysis and death within 5 years of diagnosis.  There is currently no effective treatment. Dr. Julien’s work has advanced the field significantly by the development of novel experimental treatments such as immunotherapies to target misfolded proteins and natural product-based therapeutics to target the protein complex known as NF-κB that plays a key role in regulating the immune response to infection.  In addition, he is the instigator of a Canadian Phase II clinical trial aiming to reduce activation of this protein complex in ALS with a special extract of Withania somnifera, commonly known as Indian ginseng,  that exhibits potent anti-inflammatory properties.

Dr. Julien is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and received the prestigious Sheila Essey Award from the American Academy of Neurology.  In the past two years, he received the Queen Elizabth II Diamond Award for his contributions to research in ALS and the Prix Léo-Pariseau of l’ACFAS for Health Sciences.


Dr. Mark Loeb

Dr. Mark Loeb

Dr. Mark Loeb is a Professor in the Departments of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics and holds the Michael G. DeGroote Chair in Infectious Diseases Research at McMaster University. He is internationally recognized for his research on improving the understanding and prevention of infections that are associated with physical disability. Much of his work has been to advance our understanding of the prevention of infection in the frail elderly, whose numbers are increasing and who often reside in long-term care facilities. Loeb’s work has included landmark clinical trials on managing pneumonia and the appropriate use of antimicrobials to prevent antimicrobial resistance in residents of long-term care facilities. 
​Dr. Mark Loeb (left) and Dr. Luis    
Barreto, MODC Board Member (right) 

He has shown originality and resourcefulness in using novel research designs to address these problems that include a cluster randomized controlled trial of a clinical pathway to care for nursing home residents on site in the nursing home rather than admit them to an acute care hospital (JAMA 2006). The elderly do not respond as well to the influenza vaccine and so to prevent influenza complications in this vulnerable population, Loeb demonstrated in a cluster randomized trial in Hutterite colonies in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba that the elderly in the community were best protected when children were vaccinated (JAMA 2010). This study has provided the most rigorous epidemiological proof for the indirect benefit of vaccinating children against influenza and is an important way to protect frail elderly and others with chronic disability from complications of influenza. The study received world-wide attention, including an article in the New York Times, and was selected as 2010 paper of the year by the prestigious journal The Lancet. More recently, Dr Loeb was asked by the World Health Organization to conduct a study to assess the risk factors for complications of influenza in patients with chronic medical conditions and disability (BMJ 2013). 

He is currently leading a study to investigate why, despite historically high exposure to the polio virus in North America, some people developed paralytic polio while many others remained asymptomatic. One hypothesis is that there might be genetic variations that led people to develop paralysis following infection with the polio virus. This is an important question because it could shed light on immunological mechanisms that could lead to immune therapy or better ways of prevention. 

Loeb’s CV lists his extensive list of peer reviewed papers and the book chapters he has authored. He is an Associate Editor of the Evidence-Based Medicine and is a co-author of the BMJ textbook Evidence-based Infectious Diseases. His lifetime achievements have been recognized by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada who awarded him the Gold Medal for Medicine. Other awards include the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America Investigator Award, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research New Investigator Award, and the Nicholas M. and Hedy J. Monk Award for geriatric research.


Dr. Michael Fehlings 

Dr. Michael Fehlings is a world renowned neurosurgeon and researcher with outstanding contributions to the fields of spine and spinal cord injuries. His research uses a combination of state-of-the-art approaches. In 1991. he and Dr. Charles Tator, formulated the vascular hypothesis of Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) which identified the critical role of post-injury changes in systemic circulation, such as hypotension and reduced cardiac output. This work has set the gold standard of now widely used systemic treatments of SCI patients by restoring the systemic blood pressure using dopamine, steroids, and nimodipine or volume expansion. His recent work using stem cell transplants for treatment of injured spinal cord in animals made headlines around the world and is of fundamental importance for developing stem cell-based therapies for patients with spinal cord injury. In 2009, he received the Olivecrona Medal Neurosurgery which is considered the "Nobel of Neurosurgery/Neuroscience". 

Dr. Fehlings is a Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto, senior scientist at the Spinal Program at the Toronto Western Hospital, a Scientist at the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine and a McLaughlin Scholar in molecular medicine. He holds the Krembil Chair in Neural Repair and Regeneration at the University Health Network (UHN), and is the Medical Director of the Krembil Neuroscience Program. He is the Inaugural Director of the inter-departmental University of Toronto Neuroscience Program with over 400 faculty members, and is the co-Director of the University of Toronto Spine Program.
Dr. Michael and Mark Lievonen 
Dr. Michael Fehlings (left), 2013 Jonas Salk Award Winner
and Mark Lievonen, President of Sanofi Pasteur (right)


Dr. John Esdaile

In the field of rheumatology, Dr. Esdaile is a pre-eminent clinical epidemiologist known for both the scope of his research topics and for the rigour of his methodological approaches, having built two eminent units of rheumatology, one at McGill and the other at the University of B.C. and founding the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada. In 1984, he published the first trial of methotrexate in rheumatoid arthritis, a drug that is now one of the main treatments for the condition. He has also led a multi-centre Canadian initiative on osteoarthritis that has led to the development of tools for the measurement of quality of life and has completed a series of studies documenting the relationship of socio-economic status and outcomes in systemic lupus. He has been an extraordinary leader who understands the patient’s view and has worked to focus rheumatic disease research on solving problems for patients and their families. 

Dr. Esdaile is the Arthur JE Child Chair in Rheumatology Research at the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada, a Professor in the Departments of Medicine / Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary and a Professor of Medicine at The University of British Columbia


Dr. Donald Weaver

Dr. Weaver is a unique in that he is an internationally acclaimed neurologist with a PhD in computational organic chemistry.  His current positions include professor and Canada Research Chair in Clinical Neuroscience at Dalhousie University, Research Director for the Department of Medicine at Dalhousie Medical School and Capital Health and affiliated scientist at the NRC Institute for Biodiagnostics.

His research focuses on the design and synthesis of novel drugs for the treatment and eventual cure of chronic neurological disorders like epilepsy and Alzheimer’s. He is a pioneer in the field of computer-assisted molecular design (CAMD) to facilitate the design of novel drug molecules. Dr. Weaver and his colleagues have created 3-D computer models of key Alzheimer drug targets (receptor regions within the beta amyloid and tau proteins that cause them to “misfold”) and developed a library of more than 11 million compounds to test on these receptors. Multiple lead compounds developed in his laboratory have demonstrated significant activity in pre-clinical studies in the National Institutes of Health Anti-epileptic Drug Development Program.  This approach links basic science to clinical science, thereby enabling a "bench top to bedside" philosophy in drug design.  In addition, he is a leading drug designer in the area of epilepsy, having designed a pioneering antiepileptogenic compound that prevents the onset of seizures following head trauma.
Dr. Weaver has published close to 140 articles in peer-reviewed journals and is the co-author of five books. He is the owner of 20 patents and has filed over 100 patent applications. He has also co-founded six biotech companies to bring his work closer to market and patient use. Dr. Weaver recently launched Treventis Corporation. The name, he explains, is a hybrid of ‘treatment’ and ‘prevention.’ Chemists in the company’s Halifax laboratory are synthesizing the most promising computer-designed virtual drugs into real-world compounds, to be tested in Petri dishes, animal models and, ultimately, human clinical trials.

In addition to the Jonas Salk Award, Dr. Weaver has been recognized with numerous awards including the International Centennial Award in Alzheimer’s research, the Weir Mitchell Award for most outstanding neurology research, the Prix Galien Research Award (the Nobel Prize of pharmaceutical research), the European Gowers Award for best epilepsy research in the world, Canada’s “Best 40 under 40 Award” and the QEII Silver Jubilee Medal for humanitarian work.

Dr. Donald Weaver, winner of the 2011 Jonas Salk Award 

Dr. Robert Burrell

Canada Research Chair in Nanostructured Biomaterials, Professor of Chemical and Materials Engineering, Professor & Chair of Biomedical Engineering in the Faculties of Engineering, University of Alberta.

Dr. Burrell has established a program for the development of advanced nanomaterials for biomedical applications. He is one of the world’s leading authorities on the use of these materials for medical applications including control of microbial growth on a wide range of devices and control of the inflammatory response after injury. He invented and developed the world’s first commercially successful therapeutic application of nanotechnology – Acticoat wound dressings. These dressings are marketed and sold worldwide and have changed the outcomes of people’s lives by saving their limbs and lives. He is a named inventor on more than 290 patents and pending patents worldwide.

Image: Dr Robert Burrell winner of the 2010 Jonas Salk Award 


Dr. Janice Eng

A professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at University of British Columbia, and a faculty member of the Brain Research Centre and Graduate Program in Neurosciences, Dr. Eng is involved with the Rehab Research Lab at British Columbia’s largest rehabilitation centre, the GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute.  Eng also provides research for the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD), which seeks "solutions for spinal cord injury."

Dr. Eng has achieved great success in the field of practical rehabilitation research to find solutions that are patient-driven, effective and inexpensive.  She has developed an arm and hand exercise program for inpatient stroke rehabilitation called GRASP (Graded Repetitive Arm Supplementary Program), which was proven to increase the functioning of arms and hands affected by stroke, and therefore increased the amount these arms and hands were used.  This program is particularly useful because it complements regular therapy sessions but can be performed independently by the patient after initial instruction by a physical or occupational therapist, letting patients take charge of their recovery.  Tasks are easy, safe, effective, and meaningful to the patient, resulting in a better emotional state along with improved physical function.  GRASP is practiced in ten countries, with fifteen sites in Canada.

Similarly, Eng’s Fitness and Mobility Exercise Program (FAME) is an independent program (following instruction) designed for stroke survivors with standing and walking ability to improve arm and hand fitness, but also cardiovascular function and mobility.  FAME strives to combat the inactivity often observed in stroke survivors and the health problems which result, particularly the risk of a second stroke, by improving cardiovascular fitness.

Dr. Eng is passionate about the sharing of knowledge, seeking to increase the generally available pool of research information in a comprehensible manner.  She is the co-leader of the Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Evidence (SCIRE) project, a Canadian research collaboration between scientists, clinicians and consumers in Vancouver, British Columbia and London, Ontario and their respective health centres, research institutions, and universities. SCIRE reviews and evaluates existing research and case studies, then presents the results in a direct and understandable manner for the education of health professionals and anyone else with an interest in best rehabilitation practices.  The website receives over 25,000 hits per month, and covers 25 different areas of management.  By aggregating relevant literature and research studies, her team has been able to review and use this previously-uncollected information for comparison; for example, by analyzing 41 different studies, they determined  that repeated gait practice was most beneficial to functional ambulation in patients with subacute/chronic spinal cord injury
Dr. Eng has published almost 150 studies related to rehabilitation and stroke research, many of which highlight the relationship between specific exercise (individual or group) and improvement in the abilities and lives of people who have had spinal cord injuries, strokes, or are simply aging. For example, Eng spearheaded a six-month clinical trial that proved the ability of a long-term resistance or agility training program to significantly improve the risk of falling in women aged 75-85 by reducing postural sway, and increased cortical bone density. Eng and her team have also conducted several evaluations of soft-foot orthotics and prosthetic feet; determined different strategies of muscle movements to help a person recover from tripping, depending on what stage of step during which they trip; and proved that a three-dimensional model of the lower limbs offers a much better understanding of joint movements, powers, and work than a planar model, due to the specific motions that are made.

Dr. Eng’s studies have been cited in hundreds of subsequent research projects involving rehabilitation and exercise for patients with spinal cord injury, stroke, and MS.  She is widely cited in the fields of gait rehab strategies, balance control, walking and strength training, and other strategies for growth of abilities and prevention of future complications for these patients. Her other honours include the YMCA Women of Distinction Award, an Award of Excellence in Mentoring Early Career Faculty, a Canadian Academy of Health Sciences Fellowship, UBC’s Killiam Research Prize and Outstanding Young Alumnus Award, and the title of Senior Scholar at the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.


Dr. Andres Lozano

By the year 2030, it is estimated that deaths from neurodegenerative diseases will surpass the number caused by cancer.  With this in mind, neuroscientist Dr. Lozano has devoted his life’s work to the study of neurological disorders, in order to find and classify what circuits and neurons are involved in causing them. At the Lozano Laboratory at Toronto Western Hospital, Lozano and his team study new restorative brain functioning neurosurgical techniques, brain imaging, deep brain stimulation, and electrophysiology, and their efficacy in treating Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease (including the disease’s effect of cell death), and even treatment-resistant depression.  Lozano is a senior scientist in the Division of Brain Imaging and Behaviour Systems.  Dr. Lozano holds an MD from the University of Ottawa and a PhD in Neurobiology and neurosurgical training from McGill.  He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in 1990.  In 1991, he joined the Department of Surgery at University of Toronto’s Toronto Western Hospital and became a full professor in 1999; now professor and RR Tasker Chair in Functional Neurosurgery, he has trained many PhD students and neurosurgical fellows. Dr. Lozano is a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Neuroscience.

Lozano is routinely listed at the top of the list of cited researchers in deep brain stimulation and in Parkinson’s disease (5th, according to Essential Science Indicators in 2007).  He has been published in more than 300 peer reviewed publications, and is the editor in chief of the Textbook of Stereotatic and Functional Neurosurgery. As of 2007, Essential Science Indicators listed 5,813 citations on a range of 156 of his papers (Taubes,, particularly an extensive, two-part 1998 review on advances in Parkinson’s treatment, and Google Scholar lists 15,894 citations on 616 papers.

Deep brain stimulation involves a three-volt battery, a wire under the skin of the neck and scalp, and a small electrode firing 130 pulses a second implanted, in the case of Alzheimer’s, in the memory centre of the brain, four inches deep.  The patient is awake during the procedure for monitoring purposes.  It has been found to be useful in quelling the tremors, rigidity, lack of movement (Akinesia) and, to a lesser extent, postural and gait abnormalities associated with Parkinson’s, serving as a pacemaker for the brain.

In 2008, a 20-patient trial was published showing that 60 percent of patients with treatment-resistant depression found some relief after deep brain stimulation was performed on a particular, overactive section of the brain, and 35 percent of the patients showed no symptoms after a year. The treatment had none of the cognitive problems associated with electroshock therapy, and can help patients who do not respond to electroshock.

In 2010, Dr. Lozano was the first to publish results suggesting that deep brain stimulation could access the circuits in the brain that control memory, slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, and even improve the memory of the patient, after a serendipitous discovery that occurred when an extremely vivid 30-year-old memory was triggered in a patient using deep brain stimulation to treat overeating.  Lozano found, in a small study, that the damaged portions of the brain were circumvented by DBS, and healthy circuitry was restored; those parts of the brain began to once again use the glucose required for their functioning.

Deep brain stimulation has been featured on 60 Minutes, The Independent, and The New York Times, and has gained international interest.  It has been used over 80,000 times worldwide.

Other awards for Dr. Lozano include the 2009 Donald Calne Lectureship from Parkinson Society Canada, the Gold Medal Award from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the Penfield Award, the Order of Spain for Meritorious Civil Service, and his election as a fellow to the Royal Society of Canada. He has held editorial positions with twelve neurosurgical journals, and has served on the board and executive of several international organizations, including the Lifeboat Foundation Neuroscience Advisory Board, the National Institutes of Health, and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Resarch, and is a former President of the World Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery.  


Dr. Robert Inman

Dr. Inman was one of only a handful of researchers who had devoted their careers to advancing the scientific knowledge and treatment of Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), one of the most common forms of arthritis affecting young adults, primarily young men.
While the exact cause of AS is unknown, Dr. Inman made key contributions in advancing scientific understanding of how a bacterial infection may trigger the disease in susceptible individuals.  He published a landmark study about this relationship after there was an occurrence of reactive spondyloarthritis after an outbreak of Salmonellosis within the Ontario Provincial Police during Pope John-Paul II’s visit to Toronto in 1984.


Dr. Carol L. Richards

The 2005 award recognizes Dr. Richards' outstanding achievement as a pioneer in rehabilitation science and builder of multidisciplinary relations across the rehabilitation sciences.  Dr. Richards is internationally recognized for her work in the rehabilitation of walking disabilities of persons after stroke, with cerebral palsy and musculoskeletal impairments.

Since 2001 she has held a senior Canada Research Chair in Rehabilitation for her work in the rehabilitation of persons with stroke and, since 2003, the Laval University Research Chair in Cerebral Palsy.


Dr. Richard Stein

Dr. Richard Stein is a neuroscientist focusing on physiology, who has spent over 40 years working on ways to increase mobility for people with spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, stroke and many other debilitating conditions. Thousands of people with central nervous system disorders have benefitted from his WalkAide system, which Stein and his company, BioMotion Ltd., developed based on Stein’s research on electronic stimulation techniques from the early 1990s.

Dr. Stein received his DPhil from the University of Oxford, and is a professor emeritus in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry.  He writes, “you really only understand how something works when you can fix it after it breaks,” and his study of damaged motor control systems has broadened our understanding of how we normally control movement as well, generating mathematical models of nervous system function. His motor control research includes an examination of the patterns that are generated for walking, how reflexes are modulated based on various types of motion, and ambitious attempts to help people with spinal cord injuries replace function and reverse atrophy in their muscles and bones.

Marrying research with real-world application, Stein has been issued five patents for his inventions. He has successfully determined the feasibility of using microstimulators, or BIONs, to create a BIONic WalkAide to correct foot drop, the first application of these BIONs in the field of functional electrical stimulation. Stein’s invention of the C-Leg (computerized leg, a computer-controlled lower limb prosthesis) received media attention in 2001, when a man with a transfemoral amputation used one to successfully run down 70 flights of stairs to escape the collapsing World Trade Center.

Dr. Stein served as Director of NeuroScience Canada, and was a member of the organization’s Scientific Advisory Board, from 1998 to 2007, when he became an Honorary Director. In 2001, he received the Canadian Medical Association’s Medal of Honour; the association’s highest award for a person who is not a member of the medical profession. In 2006 and 2007, he received the DaVinci Award, an international award recognizing inventions that equalize access and opportunity using assistive or adaptive technologies; also in 2007, he received the Barbara Turnbull Award for Spinal Cord Research for a project with colleagues from the University of Alberta, attempting to develop an Interspinal Micro Stimulation device that could help a paralyzed person walk when attached to the spine. The unique aspect of this device would be a “closed-loop control system” recording mechanism that would log and act on sensory feedback in the legs and hips coming from nerves and muscles.  He received the ASTech Foundation’s award for Leadership in Alberta Science in 2009. He is a member of Project SMART, which seeks “to be the premier global network of Sensory Motor Rehabilitation Technology.”  His collaborative efforts have seen partnerships with more than 200 other scientists in over 25 countries; a fitting statistic for a researcher who has devoted his life to creating connections.



2003  Dr. Francis Glorieux OC and Dr. Harold Jenning
2002  Dr. Geoff Fernie
2001  Dr. Charles Tator CM and Dr. Paul Walfish CM
2000  Dr. Neil Cashman
1999 Dr. Judes Poirier
1996 Dr. Lap-Chee Tsui OC
1995 Dr. Morris (Mickey) Milner
1994 Dr. Ron Worton CM





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