Basic Science Research

Autism Care

Research
Education
Community
Policy

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.

Education

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.

Community

“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.

Policy

“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.

Basic science research is intended to result in a gain in knowledge in a particular field, which extends understanding of that topic and provides a way of solving practical problems.  One example might be how brain cells communicate with each other in people with ASD.

Dr. Irene Drmic

Dr. Irene Drmic is a Psychologist at the Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre in the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Program and Child and Youth Mental Health Program. Her clinical and research interests include mental health in individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities, phenotypic and genetic overlap of ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders, predictors of treatment response and outcome, and program development and evaluation.

Dr. Dawn Bowdish

Dawn Bowdish is the Canada Research Chair in Aging & Immunity and member of the Michael G. DeGroot Institute for Infectious Disease Research. She studies how the immune system changes with age and how leukocytes are altered during chronic inflammatory conditions. She is studying whether the peripheral immune system changes in ASD.

Grace Teskey

Grace Teskey is a Master's student in the Department of Health Sciences, working in Dr. Dawn Bowdish's lab. Her Master's project will be identifying abnormalities in immune cells as well as soluble immune markers in children with ASD. 

Dr. Vickie Galea

Dr. Vickie Galea is an Associate Professor in the School of Rehabilitation Science and the Education Program in anatomy (Health Sciences). Her background is in sensory/motor neuroscience with a focus on sensory/motor development. She has extensive experience in pediatric motor control using neurophysiological assessments as a window into typical and altered motor behaviour. Her current research concerns the modeling of spontaneous movements in infants born full-term and those of premature birth.

 

Dr. Stephanie Lavoie

Dr. Stephanie Lavoie is a Neuropsychologist with the Pediatric Neurology Program and the Neonatal Follow-Up Clinic at McMaster Children’s Hospital. Stephanie’s clinical and research interests focus on mental health and neurological underpinnings of neurodevelopmental disorders. 

Dr. Florence Roullet

Dr. Florence Roullet has been conducting basic research to understand the role of environmental factors (such as valproic acid) in the etiology of autism.  She also has a strong interest in studying non-verbal interpersonal communication through chemical senses (olfaction) in autism. She has trained at McMaster University, with the Autism Research Training program in Montreal and at the National Institute of Health.

Dr. Peter Szatmari

Dr. Peter Szatmari is a clinician-scientist and an international ASD expert. He has made significant contributions to the field in many areas including diagnosis, measurement, and longitudinal development – all of which led to significant changes in our understanding of ASD as well as the classification of ASD in both the DSM-IV and DSM-5. He was a co-leader of the Autism Genome Project and leads the national Pathways in ASD study. He is the founding Director of the Canadian Autism Intervention Research Network, a patient-oriented research network in early intervention in ASD.

Dr. Karun Singh

Dr. Karun Singh is a neuroscientist and stem cell biologist studying the cellular and molecular mechanisms of ASD. He is using a combination of mouse models and human brain cells to understand how genetic risk factors impact brain development.

Dr. Diana Parvinchi

Dr. Diana Parvinchi is a post-doctoral fellow at McMaster University developing a software-based intervention for children with ASD and examining functional connectivity (fMRI) in ASD. The findings from the fMRI study are being used to improve the design of the software-based intervention. Dr. Parvinchi’s work on intervention in ASD aims to “kick start” more neurotypical processing mechanisms in the early stages of development.