Dr. Sheila Laredo appointed chair of NeuroDevNet’s board of directors

August 16, 2016

NeuroDevNet welcomes Dr. Sheila Laredo as our new Chair of the Board of Directors.

Upon joining the board in 2013, Dr. Laredo brought a wealth of experience as a clinician with a primary interest in women’s reproductive health, and immersion in neurodevelopmental issues as a seasoned advocate and parent of two children on the autism spectrum.

Dr. Laredo is chief of staff at Women’s College Hospital. As an associate professor at the University of Toronto in the Faculty of Medicine, her clinical expertise is focused on polycystic ovary syndrome and the role of insulin resistance and obesity on reproductive health outcomes.

Asked what attracted her to serve on NeuroDevNet’s board, Dr. Laredo spoke first of her children.

“Because I’m the mom of two kids that have autism, the most important thing I could do for them is participate in a process that will ultimately result in better care for our kids. We need research, dedicated researchers and knowledge translation to make that happen. In my mind, that’s what NeuroDevNet does.

“I’m honoured to serve with this board of unbelievably talented people, whose experiences are extraordinary,” she adds. “I feel overwhelmed to be asked to be chair. It’s a huge honour.”

Expressing her appreciation for Patrick Lafferty, who stepped down as chair in July but continues to serve on the board, Dr. Laredo says her initial priorities for the board include participating in the rebranding of NeuroDevNet as the Kids Brain Health Network, and making sure the Network’s researchers “have enough resources to do the important work they would do if they could. I have no doubt in my mind that we have the right researchers doing the right kind of research.”

Thirteen years of advocating for effective, evidence-based interventions for children with autism in Ontario have reinforced the need for an active approach to seeking and obtaining that support, and seeing findings translated into impact.

Translational elements built into the Network are important to Dr. Laredo. Her imminent participation in the Ontario Autism Program’s implementation committee, with its close engagement with policy makers, as well as past experience shape her views of policy as the “ultimate form of KT”.

“As a clinician, I understand the role of using evidence to inform policy, to impact many children,” she says. That understanding arose through Dr. Laredo’s participation in the 2000 constitutional case made for access to appropriate therapy for children with autism. “I told my lawyer, somewhat jokingly, ‘you might help more people with this one change in policy, than I can help as physician, seeing people one person at a time’.

“Over time, I thought, ‘I could do this too. You can touch people you don’t know and it matters’. Now, I can’t not do it.

“We want to make sure every kid has access to what’s appropriate therapeutically,” adds Dr. Laredo. “That’s why one of the priorities is going to be around building a foundation, so there is a legacy to support future generations in this work. I really want it to survive me. Survive us.

“It doesn’t require any single one of us: it will require every single one of us. It’s going to be the whole board, rowing in the same direction in these important next steps.”

Dr. Laredo’s biography (click "bio" next to Dr. Laredo's name, at the top of the list of directors)