Dr. Geoff Fernie and Dr. Michael Sefton
Dr. Geoff Fernie (L) was made a Member of the Order of Canada while Dr. Michael Sefton was promoted within the Order to Officer in the year-end announcement by Governor General Julie Payette. (Photos: UHN)

A pair of UHN researchers have received one of Canada's highest civilian honours.

Dr. Geoff Fernie, Research Institute Director at Toronto Rehab, and Dr. Michael Sefton, Affiliate Scientist with the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, were two of 125 appointments to the Order in a year-end announcement by Governor General Julie Payette.

Dr. Fernie, who was made a Member of the Order of Canada, was cited "for his advancements in the field of rehabilitation engineering, notably in the development of therapies and products designed to assist individuals with limited mobility."

Dr. Sefton was promoted within the Order to Officer "for his seminal contributions to the field of biomedical engineering and for his mentorship of the next generation of engineers."

They will be invited to accept their insignia at a ceremony to be held later this year.

With a passion for searching for practical solutions to common daily problems for an aging population and people who struggle with different forms of disability, Dr. Fernie has led the growth of Toronto Rehab's research enterprise to become the top rehabilitation research centre in the world.

His scope encompasses two objectives: the prevention of injury and disease and helping individuals and their caregivers continue to live in their own homes as they age. Dr. Fernie has maintained a focus on the reduction of falls through the development of innovative mobility products, non-slip winter footwear and improvements to accessibility and building codes.

He has made significant advances in preventing hospital acquired infections by improving hand hygiene. His recent involvement in the development of a disposable instrument for home diagnosis of sleep apnea has the potential to significantly reduce the prevalence of cardiovascular complications resulting from untreated sleep apnea.

Dr. Sefton, who is also a University Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry and in the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto, is regarded as a pioneer in tissue engineering and a leader in biomaterials, biomedical engineering and regenerative medicine.

He was the first to recognize the importance of combining living cells with synthetic polymers to create "artificial" organs and tissues. He was also one of the first in the world that succeeded in micro-encapsulating live cells – with a view to creating an artificial pancreas and other tissues that could then evade the patient's immune system through the barrier properties of the encapsulating membrane.

The Order of Canada recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. Close to 7,000 people from all sectors of society have been invested into the Order since its creation in 1967.

View the full list of the 125 new appointments.

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