Clinical Research

Autism Care



“Future research needs to focus not only on the biological markers of autism 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 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, autism experts from these organizations are coming together to integrate autism 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.


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.


“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 autism and advance autism care through meaningful research.


“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 Autistic individuals, along with their families.

MacART’s founder, Stelios Georgiades, serves on both federal and provincial advisory committees about autism supports/service funding. Along with the wide-ranging expertise of its many autism 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 autism diagnosis, services, 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.

Clinical research determines whether or not medications, devices, or diagnostic methods are effective and safe for humans. This includes research being carried out by MacART members who are testing medications that can be part of a care and support plan for some Autistic persons' needs.

Dr. Elisabetta Trinari

Dr. Elisabetta Trinari is a Developmental Pediatrician and Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, at McMaster University. She holds a master's in Health Research Methodology and her clinical and research interests are evidence synthesis and clinical trials in Autism, patients with dual diagnosis, and neurogenetic syndromes associated with developmental disabilities.

Dr. Rebecca Shine

Dr. Rebecca Shine is a Clinical Psychologist at McMaster Children’s Hospital's Autism Program. Her clinical and research interests include the mental health of individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities, program development and evaluation, and treatment outcomes.

Areeba Sharafuddin

Areeba is a first-year MSc student in the Neuroscience program under the supervision of Dr. Stelios Georgiades. Her research focuses on developing a tool to assess the functional skills of Autistic children across various environments during early transitional periods.

Irene O'Connor

Irene O'Connor worked for many years as a psychometrist for the genetics of Autism studies at the Offord Centre for Child Studies. She is now completing her PhD in Clinical Psychology in the Research and Clinical Training Stream at McMaster University. Her clinical and research interests include vocational training for transition age Autistic youth, mental health in individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities, and family service navigation interventions. 

Dr. Olivia Ng

Dr. Olivia Ng is the Clinical Director of the Developmental Pediatrics and Rehabilitation Program at McMaster Children's Hospital and serves as Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University.  Her clinical and research interests are in children with neurodevelopmental disorders and neurodevelopmental differences (including Autistic children), program evaluation and treatment outcomes, and interdisciplinary collaboration of clinical services. 

Alina Kislenko

Alina Kislenko is an Autistic psychotherapist who runs The ADHD & Spectrum Centres in Guelph and Ottawa (with an all-neurodivergent practitioner team). She is also an Assistant Clinical Adjunct Professor at Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. Alina's special interests are ADHD, Autism, Giftedness, and Psychopathy. 

Dr. Julia Frei

Dr. Julia Frei is a Developmental Pediatrician and Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, McMaster University.  Her clinical and research interests include dual diagnosis and disadvantaged populations. She is the Site Qualified Investigator for an international multi-site randomized controlled trial of Arbaclofen as part of a support and care plan for Autistic persons.

Dr. Irene Drmic

Dr. Irene Drmic is a Psychologist at the Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre in the Autism 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 Autism and neurodevelopmental disorders, predictors of treatment response and outcome, and program development and evaluation.

Dr. Stephen Gentles

Dr. Stephen Gentles was a postdoctoral fellow with MacART, under the supervision of Dr. Stelios Georgiades. His research examines the social psychological needs and responses of parents of Autistic children as they navigate intervention. He is now a CIHR Health System Impact Fellow in a project that is a partership between an academic institution and a community organization; he is co-supervised by Dr. Stelios Georgiades (McMaster University) and Margaret Spoelstra (Autism Ontario).

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.