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About Sickkids
About SickKids

Joanne Rovet, PhD

Research Institute
Senior Scientist Emeritus
Neurosciences & Mental Health

University of Toronto
Professor Emeritus
Departments of Paediatrics and Psychology

Email: joanne.rovet@sickkids.ca

Brief Biography

Dr. Joanne Rovet is a senior scientist emeritus in Neurosciences & Mental Health  at The Hospital for Sick Children and a professor of paediatrics and psychology at the University of Toronto. She is also appointed to the Graduate Faculty in Psychology at the University of Toronto and York University.

Rovet has a PhD from the University of Toronto and has completed a postdoctoral fellowship in paediatric neuropsychology at SickKids. Rovet is a registered psychologist with the College of Psychologists of Ontario.

Rovet was a founding member of the Turner Syndrome Society of Canada. She is a member of the advisory committee of the Neurosciences & Mental Health research program and a member of the Staff Review Committee of the Research Institute at SickKids. She was the past chair of RESTRACOMP.

Clinical Care Activities

Clinical care activities for all participants in Rovet's studies are supervised by Rovet. She also evaluates atypical endocrine cases.

Research Interests

  • The role of thyroid hormone in fetal and neonatal brain development.
  • Structural and functional neuroimaging studies of children with fetal/neonatal thyroid hormone insufficiencies.
  • Structural and functional neuroimaging studies of children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
  • Thyroid hormone and visual development.
  • Hypothyroxinemia of prematurity and child outcome.
  • Social and behavioural consequences of fetal alcohol exposure
  • Neuroanatomic characteristics of atypical pubertal development

Research Activities

A primary focus of Rovet's research program is studying children who were exposed to insufficient levels of thyroid hormone during fetal life and early infant development. This includes studies of children with congenital hypothyroidism, offspring of women with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism during pregnancy, and children born preterm whose early neonatal thyroid hormone levels are also evaluated. These children are studies for memory, and visual processing deficits using classical neuropsychological and laboratory-based tasks with special emphasis on memory systems. In addition, children with congenital hypothyroidism or maternal hypothyroidism are undergoing MRI studies to measure structural abnormalities of selective brain regions as well as magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) diffusion tensor imaging, voxel-based morphometry, and functional neuroimaging. 

Studies of children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders include defining the neurobehavioural phenotype, developing a screening instrument to diagnose FASD, and structural and functional neuroimaging studies. The latter serves to elucidate brain abnormalities in memory systems and the processing of social information.

Future Research Interests

Rovet is planning to conduct neuroimaging studies of children with atypical pubertal development.

External Funding

  • Canadian Institutes for Health Research
  • March of Dimes
  • Canadian Foundation for Fetal Alcohol Research


  • Dewan Award, Ontario Mental Health Foundation, 2005
  • Turner Syndrome Society of Canada Award of Recognition, 1992
  • Health and Welfare Canada, National Health Scholar, 1983-1988
  • Research Fellowship, Ontario Mental Health Foundation, 1981-1982
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Medical Research Council, 1975-1978


Willoughby KA, Sheard ED, Nash K, Rovet J. Effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on hippocampal volume, verbal learning, and spatial memory. Journal of the International Neurological Society 2008, 14, 1022-1033.

Till C, Koren B, Rovet J. Workplace standards for exposure to toxicants during pregnancy. Canadian Journal of Public Health 2008 99:572-474.

Rovet J, Simic N. The role of transient hypothyroxinemia of prematurity (THOP) in development of visual abilities. Seminars in Perinatology 2008, 32: 431-437.

Mirabella G, Westall C, Asztalos E, Perlman K, Koren G, Rovet J. The development of contrast sensitivity in infants with prenatal and neonatal thyroid hormone insufficiencies. Pediatrics Research 2005, 57(6): 902-907

Till CT, Nulman I, Swartz SJ, Koren G, Westall CA, Rovet J. Vision abnormalities in young children exposed prenatally to organic solvents. Neurotoxicology 2005, July 25 26: 599-613

Rovet J. Congenital hypothyroidism: treatment and outcome. Current Opinion in Endocrinology and Metabolism 2005; 12:42-52

Rovet J. Children with congenital hypothyroidism and their siblings: do they really differ? Pediatrics 2005; 115: e52-57

Zoeller T, Rovet J. Timing of thyroid hormone action in the developing brain – clinical observations and experimental findings. J Neuroendocrinology 2004; 16: 809-18

Rovet J. Turner syndrome: a review of genetic and hormonal influences on neuropsychological functioning. Child Neuropsychology 2004:10: 262-279

Desrocher M, Rovet J. Neurocognitive correlates of type 1 diabetes mellitus in childhood. Child Neuropsychology 2004:10:36-52

Chan S, Rovet J. Thyroid hormones in fetal central nervous system. Fetal and Maternal Medicine Review 2003:14(3):177-208

Rovet J, Daneman D. Congenital hypothyroidism: a review of current diagnostic procedures and treatment. Pediatric Drugs 2003:5:141-149

Click here for more publications on PubMed