Meet four IBBME professors receiving academic promotions this summer

On July 1, four faculty members from the University of Toronto’s Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) will be promoted to the rank of associate professor.

Promotion in the academic ranks recognizes a faculty member’s demonstrated excellence in research, teaching and service to the university.

“Congratulations to Dawn, Jan, Paul and Penney on their promotions,” said Professor Warren Chan, director of IBBME. “Thank you for your commitment to advancing biomedical engineering research and to training our next generation of leaders in this field.”

Jan Andrysek, Associate Professor

Professor Jan Andrysek’s research focuses on the design, development and clinical evaluation of technologies to improve mobility in children and adults with lower-limb impairments. This includes the development of new prosthetic and orthotic technologies, as well as potential interventions such as video game systems for improving postural balance.

Andrysek’s research was more recently commercialized in the form of the All-Terrain (AT) Knee through the spinoff company LegWorks. This durable, affordable prosthetic knee joint provides exceptional stability, is easy to fit and maintain, and can be used in harsh environments such as water, making it particularly suitable for use by active adults, children and also in the developing world.

Andrysek is also a scientist at the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and serves as IBBME’s associate director of professional programs.

Penney Gilbert, Associate Professor

Professor Penney Gilbert is the Canada Research Chair in Endogenous Repair.

Her research looks at cues that “wake up” muscle stem cells and directs them to repair skeletal damage. Along with her team, Gilbert hopes to decipher these cues and inform the development of new drugs, therapies and treatments that restore strength to muscles that are wasting as a result of aging or disease.

Gilbert also holds cross-appointments in the U of T Department of Biochemistry and as a principle investigator in the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research.

Dawn Kilkenny, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream

Professor Dawn Kilkenny has been teaching at the University of Toronto since 2008.

In recent years, Kilkenny led the revamp of the Undergraduate Teaching Laboratory, garnering more than $2 million for new teaching equipment and renovations.

She also led the launch of the Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Minor in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, oversaw the rapid growth of the Undergraduate Summer Research Program and championed the creation of Discovery, a graduate student-led high school outreach program developed in collaboration with the Toronto District School Board’s George Harvey Collegiate Institute. This program has recently been supported by an NSERC PromoScience award.

In 2016, she received the Wighton Fellowship from the Sandford Fleming Foundation—a national award that recognizes work in the development and teaching of laboratory-based courses in Canadian undergraduate engineering programs. In 2017, Kilkenny received the University of Toronto’s Early Career Teaching Award.

Kilkenny serves as IBBME’s associate director of undergraduate programs and as associate chair for the Division of Engineering Science.

Paul Yoo, Associate Professor

Professor Paul Yoo’s research investigates the use of electrical nerve stimulation to elicit physiological responses aimed at improving the health and quality of life of patients.

One of his team’s projects looks at a novel way to treat overactive bladder, which is a complex symptom syndrome affecting 18 per cent of Canadian adults. Having recently received an AGE-WELL Networks of Centres of Excellence program support, Yoo and his team are accelerating the clinical translation of their work by developing a non-invasive wearable that can seamlessly deliver treatment to patients. The mechanism of this electrical neuromodulation therapy involves a recently discovered inhibitory reflex that connects a specific sensory nerve in the lower leg to the urinary bladder.

Yoo is a joint-appointed faculty member with the U of T Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering.