Congratulations to MacART member Dr. Karun Singh, professor in McMaster University's Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, scientist at the McMaster Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Research Institute, and holder of the David Braley Chair in Human Stem Cell Research. Dr. Singh has received two project grants. One project, “Understanding and treating neurological phenotypes in the 15q13.3 microdeletion syndrome,” aims to better understand how risk genes cause abnormal brain development. A strong genetic risk factor is where individuals are missing a piece of chromosome 15 (a microdeletion), and can have autism, schizophrenia, epilepsy or developmental delay. This study will use various models (mouse models, human and mouse brain imaging, cultured human brain cells, genetic sequencing and bioinformatics) to study this microdeletion. The other project, “Understanding the function of DIXDC1 in normal and abnormal brain development,” is exploring a new molecule named Dix domain containing 1 (DIXDC1) to determine its role in signaling pathways in the brain. The experiments will provide new information to help understand normal brain connections and how disrupting these pathways can cause ASD-like pathologies.
“People whose lives are connected to the challenge of autism can share knowledge – from clinicians to educators to parents – and what an amazing opportunity that is. We have a real opportunity to translate challenges into research, and research into practice that will help families living with autism.”
Rob MacIsaac // President & CEO // Hamilton Health Sciences
Policies should be created using the best available evidence that make positive impacts on the lives of individuals with ASD, along with their families.
MacART’s founder, Stelios Georgiades, serves on both federal and provincial advisory committees about ASD treatment funding. Along with the wide-ranging expertise of its many ASD experts, MacART is set to act as a highly credible source of evidence-based information to influence and inform public policy about the provision and funding of ASD diagnosis, treatment, and family supports.
MacART will continue to find ways to collaborate with policymakers to both learn more about the policymaking process, and to contribute our expertise and knowledge to inform policymaking, in order to advance autism care through meaningful research.
“Our scientists are working collaboratively with local clinicians to generate the evidence needed to improve autism services. This symposium is a great example of McMaster’s community engagement efforts.”
Dr. Patrick Deane // President & Vice-Chancellor // McMaster University
The community engagement component of MacART strives to work with stakeholders and involve them as partners in every step of the research process. By doing so, the questions that drive research begin to change. They become more meaningful because they address the real day-to-day challenges faced by children and their families, and the clinicians supporting them.
MacART aims to increase participation and involvement of members of the McMaster and Hamilton communities in the research process. With community members driving the research, new and relevant knowledge can be produced to bridge the research-to-practice gap in ASD and advance autism care through meaningful research.
MacART members are now supervising more than 50 research trainees at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels, and are engaged in the mentoring of junior and intermediate faculty members.
In the future, we intend to establish research and clinical training programs for students in McMaster’s undergraduate medical, health sciences, and psychology programs, and for residents and fellows in Pediatrics and Psychiatry.
By training and mentoring emerging researchers and practitioners, we will help to solidify their understanding of and commitment to using basic science to inform their clinical practice, and to use their clinical experience to help formulate research questions. It is our belief that involving these learners in MacART educational activities will promote their use of practices that advance autism care through meaningful research.
“Future research needs to focus not only on the biological markers of ASD but also include data about functioning, participation, and environmental barriers and facilitators.”
Dr. Olaf Kraus de Camargo // Developmental Pediatrician
MacART is laying the foundation for creating a systematic way of linking scientific research on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at McMaster University to clinical practice at McMaster Children’s Hospital.
The physical proximity of McMaster Children’s Hospital, Hamilton Health Sciences, and McMaster University has a number of characteristics that provides the rare opportunity for collaborative research. Taking advantage of existing university and clinical infrastructure and cross-appointments for clinicians at the university, ASD experts from these organizations are coming together to integrate ASD research into clinical practice.
The focus of MacART members’ research is in the areas of basic science, clinical practice, clinical research, epidemiology and statistical modelling, knowledge translation and exchange, and social science research. By promoting the collaboration of stakeholders across disciplines, MacART is reducing barriers to implementing research in clinical practice, with the goal of advancing autism care through meaningful research.
Learn more about our research HERE.