Toronto welcomes Dr. Jacob Vorstman

Jacob Vorstman, a child psychiatrist from Utrecht, the Netherlands will be joining the Department of Psychiatry at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. As an Associate Professor, he will be doing both clinical work and research, starting in September. Dr. Vorstman has been a long-time research collaborator with Dr. Anne Bassett, our Clinic Director, and they co-supervise our graduate student Ania Fiksinski. He has also worked closely with our fellow Dr. Elemi Breetvelt and will certainly continue to do so.

Dr. Vorstman studied medicine in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. For his PhD, he studied the molecular genetic and cognitive-behavioral aspects of 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q). He was certified as a psychiatrist in Utrecht in 2008 and has conducted research with Dr. Beverly Emanuel in Philadelphia. For more information on his earlier work, please visit the website of the 22q11.2 Society.

Dr. Vorstman’s current 22q research work is similar to some of Dr. Bassett’s except it is on children instead of adults. With his team he monitors the children and collects research data on autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), and anxiety issues. He also follows the cognitive development of these children as they mature into adulthood. He aims to find out if and to what extent some of these problems may be the first signs of schizophrenia. One question he is asking is: If a person can differentiate his true ability as opposed to unrealistic expectations of him, will that help prevent psychiatric complications?

Leaving two jobs behind and moving to Toronto with his wife and four children has been a little stressful. Nevertheless, Dr. Vorstman has found Torotonians to be very kind, outgoing, and willing to help, something that he appreciates very much. Fortunately, he and his family have not had language issues, but he finds that people talk a little too fast over the phone. On the other hand, he has been amazed at the number of languages that people in Toronto speak, and his wife (a linguist who will be working in OISE) is certainly delighted about the variety.

Since his arrival in Toronto on July 28, Dr. Vorstman has been trying to get all the necessary documents, home furniture, as well as internet connections. He plans to bike downtown to work (“The biking situation here is better than in Philly”) and he plans to let his children resume their music activities once the family settles down. When asked about the weather, he finds the heat to be “bearable”, and he has been given plenty of warning about the winter. For now, he just has to get used to the number of choices he needs to make when buying a coffee: “Three different sizes, fourteen types of milk, for here or to go!”

Welcome, Dr. Vorstman. We look forward to working with you.