Brokoslaw Laschowski receives U of T’s 2022 T-CAIREM Best Trainee Rounds Award

This article was originally published by the KITE Research Institute.

Professor Brokoslaw Laschowski is the recipient of the University of Toronto’s 2022 Temerty Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research and Education in Medicine (T-CAIREM) Best Trainee Rounds Award.

This award recognizes research that investigates innovative applications of artificial intelligence (AI) in medicine. The top ten applicants for the award received an opportunity to present their research before a panel of AI  in healthcare leaders who then selected a winner.

“It’s always an honor to be recognized for your research, especially from the Temerty family who have long been supporters of artificial intelligence in medicine,” said Dr. Laschowski who is one of the principal investigators with the Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in Rehabilitation Team at KITE, an assistant professor (status) in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, and an affiliate faculty member with the Robotics Institute at UofT.

“My goal is to help people with physical disabilities by merging humans with robots and computers – kind of like cyborgs. As somebody with access to incredible talent and resources at KITE, I am confident that we can build technologies better than existing commercial systems.”

The award is in recognition of Dr. Laschowski’s PhD and postdoctoral research which showed for the first time the feasibility of using deep learning, an advanced form of machine learning, to automatically recognize images of human-robot walking environments with high accuracy and speed.

Dr. Laschowski is now continuing his research with the Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in Rehabilitation Team. His students are using the technology he developed to create AI-powered smart glasses that can interface with robotic prosthetic legs and exoskeletons for autonomous control or interface directly with humans to assist persons with visual impairments in obstacle avoidance.

“For example, if we have sufficiently advanced technology, there may be no such thing as a visual impairment,” said Dr. Laschowski.  “Someone whose sight would have normally deteriorated due to age could potentially have better vision than mine by wearing smart glasses.”

Dr. Laschowski says he was able to make the transition from postdoctoral trainee to scientist thanks to the mentorship he received from University of Toronto Professor and KITE senior scientist Dr. Alex Mihailidis.

“He gave me the resources and confidence to develop my own research lab while still completing my postdoctoral fellowship,” said Dr. Laschowski. “I would not be where I am today if Dr. Mihailidis hadn’t given me that opportunity. I am extremely grateful.”

The recipient of T-CAIREM Best Trainee Rounds Award is given a $500 cash prize. Dr. Laschowski is committed to donating his prize to support victims of the war in Ukraine.

“I am very proud of Dr. Laschowski and what he has accomplished under my supervision,” said Dr. Mihailidis who is the scientific director of  AGE-WELL and the associate vice-president, international partnerships at the UofT.

“As a supervisor and researcher, you also search for the best and brightest to come work with you and eventually as a trusted colleague. Dr. Laschowski met both of those goals. I look forward to seeing his ongoing successes and working with him.”