Maureen W. Lovett is a Senior Scientist in the Neurosciences and Mental Health Program at The Hospital for Sick Children and a Professor of Paediatrics and Medical Sciences at the University of Toronto. She is Founder and Director of the Hospital’s Learning Disabilities Research Program, a clinical research group that develops and evaluates intervention programs for children, youth, and adults who struggle to learn to read. She received a Ph.D. in Psychology from McGill University, and was trained by a pioneer in Canadian Psychology, Dr. Sam Rabinovitch, who founded the first Canadian multidisciplinary centre at McGill devoted to the assessment and treatment of children with learning disabilities. After her Ph.D. studies and clinical psychology internships, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in paediatric neuropsychology at The Hospital for Sick Children. From that position, she was recruited to start a pilot research program focused on the treatment of learning disabilities.
Dr. Lovett has contributed to learning disabilities research and practice for more than three decades, and was one of the first researchers to conduct randomized controlled trials of the efficacy of remedial interventions for children with reading disabilities. She is known internationally for her research on intervention for children and youth with reading disorders. She, her team, and longtime colleagues Drs. Robin Morris and Maryanne Wolf, have created interventions for children and teens with severe reading disabilities, evaluated their efficacy in controlled designs, and scaled interventions up in school systems. This research has been funded by multiple operating grants from NICHD (NIH) and the Institute for Education Sciences (IES, the US Department of Education), as well as by provincial and federal agencies in Canada.
In the last ten years, Dr. Lovett’s research on dyslexia has included a substantial knowledge translation effort. The research interventions developed by her group in Toronto have been rolled out to help struggling readers in elementary, middle, and high schools in school boards across Canada. First published by The Hospital for Sick Children as EmpowerTM Reading in 2006, and now including five different programs for youth of different ages, the group has trained and mentored >1700 teachers who have taught >25,000 children and teens in the first decade of knowledge translation efforts.
In the past two years, the group has been engaged in work to bring better literacy learning opportunities to children in vulnerable communities. In an outreach to indigenous communities in Canada, Dr. Lovett’s group is developing multiple program sites in Cree Nation schools in Northern Quebec. Led by Léa Lacerenza and Karen Steinbach, this outreach currently involves more than 260 children and 25 teachers in eight remote communities in northern Quebec.
In an initial global literacy initiative, Dr. Lovett’s group has launched a pilot partnership with a site in Pune, India, the Dr. Anjali Morris Foundation, a Global Partner of IDA. This initiative, led by Maria De Palma, has trained and mentored the first 10 teachers in Pune and is overseeing a pilot scale-up within some Pune schools. A small group of teachers from Pune have come to Toronto for further training; they are being groomed to become liaison mentors and trainers to support expanded initiatives into schools in India.