Professor Kamran Khan to Receive Governor General's Innovation Award

May 16, 2018
Brianne Tulk

A Department of Medicine faculty member is among the recipients of the 2018 Governor General’s Innovation Award.

Associate Professor Kamran KhanAssociate Professor Kamran Khan

An associate professor and clinician-scientist in the Department of Medicine, Dr. Kamran Khan is a practicing infectious disease physician with training in public health and preventive medicine based at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital. Dr. Khan is also the founder of BlueDot, a Toronto-based enterprise that uses big data to analyze the spread of infectious diseases worldwide.

“It’s a tremendous honour to be recognized with this award,” says Dr. Khan, who has been acknowledged for his innovative work in the early detection of globally dangerous infectious diseases.

“I have the good fortune of working with an incredibly diverse and talented team at BlueDot, who push the limits of science and technology every day to fight global outbreaks with big data and artificial intelligence.”

For Dr. Khan, the worldwide health, economic and social impacts of the SARS epidemic in 2003 inspired him to develop a global early warning system for dangerous infectious diseases. He spent the next decade working to create a big data platform to drive scientific research on outbreaks and pandemics and founded BlueDot in 2013 to accelerate that goal.

Using geographic information systems, natural language processing and artificial intelligence, the multidisciplinary team at BlueDot has been able to predict the worldwide spread of influenza, and track the spread of recent outbreaks, including Ebola and the Zika virus.

“There’s a tremendous sense of pride knowing that the Governor General’s Innovation Award can help to scale the impact of my work to protect the health of Canadians and populations around the world from dangerous infectious diseases.”

In addition to Dr. Khan’s win, Tom Chau, a professor in the University of Toronto’s Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering, also received the award for his work in pediatric rehabilitation engineering.

“The University of Toronto congratulates Tom Chau and Kamran Khan on winning the prestigious Governor General’s Innovation Award,” said Vivek Goel, the university’s vice-president of research and innovation.

“Their exceptional research and creativity in tackling major global problems are great examples of how our innovators can – and are – having a positive impact on the lives of people around the world. We’d also like to thank MaRS Discovery District for nominating our two winners.”

Dr. Khan and Chau will receive their awards at a ceremony with Gov. Gen. Julie Payette on May 23 in Ottawa.

With files from Jennifer Robinson, Luke Ng and Sasha Babakhanova.

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