IBBME Professor appointed Joint Scientific Director of new $36.6M research network in technology and aging

University of Toronto Professor Alex Mihailidis from the Institute for Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) has been appointed joint scientific director for Canada’s first national research network in technology and aging.

Launched in December, AGE-WELL (Aging Gracefully across Environments using Technology to Support Wellness, Engagement and Long Life) was created to advance new technologies that improve the well-being of seniors, helping them live independently and safely at home.

The fledgling research network has already received $36.6 million* through the federal government’s Networks of Centres of Excellence program, announced earlier this week during a visit from Minister of State for Seniors Alice Wong.

“AGE-WELL aims to help older Canadians maintain their independence, health and quality of life through practical and affordable technologies that increase their safety and security, support their independent living, and enhance their social participation,” said Mihailidis.

Both Mihailidis and Simon Fraser University Professor Andrew Sixsmith are AGE-WELL’s joint scientific directors. Mihailidis is the Barbara G. Stymiest Chair in Rehabilitation Technology at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute – University Health Network (TRI-UHN) and University of Toronto. Sixsmith is director of SFU’s Gerontology Research Centre and deputy director of the University’s Interdisciplinary Research in the Mathematical and Computational Sciences centre.

With a background in mechanical and biomedical engineering, Mihailidis has been leading research in the field of pervasive computing and intelligent systems in health for the past 15 years. He has focused on intelligent home systems for elder care, technology for children with autism and adaptive tools for nurses and clinical applications.

Before starting at AGE-WELL, Mihailidis coordinated the Clinical Engineering Master of Health Science at IBBME—a tri-faculty initiative between the U of T Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering and the faculties of Medicine and Dentistry.

Through his new endeavour, Mihailidis and his colleagues will harness advanced information and communications technologies, sensor networks and robotics for seniors and their caregivers. In addition to addressing the ethical, policy and regulatory issues associated with new technologies, AGE-WELL researchers will also tackle early stage funding, entrepreneurship training and other commercialization challenges.

Hosted by the TRI-UHN in Toronto, AGE-WELL brings together 26 universities and more than 70 industry and not-for-profit organizations to establish a hub of research and innovation in technology and aging.

“It is an opportunity like we have never had in Canada,” said Mihailidis, “a chance to bring together all of the relevant researchers and stakeholders in the technology and aging community.”

*$36.6 million over five years