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Dr. Melanie Penner, Clinician Scientist, Autism Research Centre

Melanie Penner, MD FRCP(C)

Clinician Scientist and Developmental Pediatrician Bloorview Childrens Hospital Foundation (BCHF) Research Chair in Developmental Pediatrics

Assistant Professor, Department of Paediatrics, University of Toronto; Assistant Professor (Status), Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto; Associate Faculty, Institute of Medical Sciences

Visit the Autism Research Centre



Research Focus:

As a clinician investigator, Dr. Penner's clinical and research interests are in autism spectrum disorder. In particular, she is interested in service delivery for this population, including evaluating the impact and cost-effectiveness of new care models. Dr. Penner has done research and educational work to expand Ontario's diagnostic capacity for autism spectrum disorder diagnoses in the community setting, decreasing wait times and facilitating earlier access to essential intervention programs.

Education & Profession


Dr. Melanie Penner obtained her Bachelors degree in Health Sciences at McMaster University in 2004, followed by her Medical degree at Queen's University in 2008. She did her paediatric residency training at the University of Toronto and did a developmental paediatrics subspecialty residency at the University of Toronto/Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital.  She completed a Masters of Science in the Health Services Research program at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto through the Clinician Investigator Program in 2015.

Professional Memberships:

  • Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
  • International Society for Autism Research
  • American Academy of Paediatrics
  • Ontario Medical Association
  • Canadian Medical Association

Current Projects

Medication Clinical Trials


Click to see Dr. Melanie Penner's publications on PubMed

  • Penner M, Anagnostou E, Andoni L, Ungar, W. (2018). Systematic review of clinical guidance documents for autism spectrum disorder diagnostic assessment in select regions.Autism. 22(5): 517-527.
  • Zwaigenbaum L, Penner M. (2018). Advances in the diagnosis and evaluation of ASD. British Medical Journal. 361(k1674): 1-16.
  • Penner M, Anagnostou E, & Ungar WJ. (2018). Practice patterns and determinants of wait time for autism spectrum disorder diagnosis in Canada. Molecular Autism. 9(16): 1-1
  • Penner M, Anagnostou E, Andoni LY, Ungar WJ. (2018). Environmental scan of Canadian and United Kingdom (UK) policies for autism spectrum disorder diagnostic assessment. Paediatrics and Child Health. 1-12.
  • Yuen T, Penner M, Carter MT, Szatmari P, Ungar, WJ. (2018). Assessing the accuracy of the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology. 1-8.
  • Penner M, King G, Hartman L, Anagnostou E, Shouldice M, Moore Hepburn C. (2017). Community general pediatricians’ perspectives on providing autism diagnoses in Ontario, Canada: A qualitative study. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. 38(8): 593-602.
  • Piccininni C, Bisnaire L, Penner M. (2017). Cost-effectiveness of wait time reduction for intensive behavioral intervention in Ontario, Canada. JAMA Pediatrics. 171(1): 23-30.
  • Penner M, Rayar M, Bashir N, Roberts W, Hancock-Howard R, Coyte P. (2015). Economic evaluation of pre-diagnosis autism spectrum disorder-targeted intervention compared with the Ontario Autism Intervention Program. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 45(9): 2833-2847.
  • Penner M, Xie WY , Binepal N , Switzer L , Fehlings D. (2013). Characteristics of pain in children and youth with cerebral palsy. Pediatrics. 132(2): e407-413.

Book Chapters

  • 1. Fehlings D, Penner M, Donner E. (2016). Management of Common Co-Morbidities in     Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Swaiman K, Ashwal S, Ferriero D, Schor N.Swaiman’s Pediatric     Neurology: Principles and Practice. 6th edition: Chapter 58. Published, Elsevier, United     Kingdom.
  • 2. Penner M, Zwaigenbaum L & Roberts W. (2015). Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders:     Screening, Surveillance, Assessment and Formulation. Anagnostou E, Brian J. Clinician’s     Manual: Autism Spectrum Disorder. : N/A. Published, Springer Health Care, Switzerland.

Contact Info

Contact Information:

Please contact Alex Habito, Executive Assistant

Bloorview Research Institute
Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital 
150 Kilgour Road Toronto, ON M4G 1R8 

T: 416-425-6220, Ext.6343 F: 416-424-3840

Contact Email:

Media Expertise

autism spectrum disorder - diagnosis and treatment in kids with complex behavioural challenges; how health services are delivered to children and youth with autism