Autism Speaker Series - Autism: Sex & Gender in Development

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.

On Wednesday June 28th, 2017, MacART was pleased to host 2 visiting autism researchers for an informative Lunch & Learn on sex and gender in development. Drs. Will Mandy and Meng-Chuan Lai (whose bios can be found below) presented to a packed house on a framework to understand the modulating roles of sex and gender in the presentation and emergence of autism, and the clinical implications. Their powerpoint slides can be found via the link below. To watch their presentations, check out our videos page HERE

Will Mandy, DClinPsy, PhD - Department of Clinical Psychology, University College London

Will Mandy is a clinical psychologist and senior lecturer at University College London (UCL). His work aims to improve the recognition of autism, and to develop new interventions to help autistic people. He has a particular research interest in improving the identification and care of females on the autism spectrum, who are currently at high risk of going unnoticed and unhelped by clinical and educational services. He also studies sub-diagnostic autistic traits in non-clinical populations, and the role these can play in the development of a range of common childhood, adolescent and adult mental health problems. With colleagues at Great Ormond Street Hospital’s National Centre for High-Functioning Autism he has developed and trialed interventions to help children with autism transition from primary to secondary school, and to teach children about their autism diagnosis, with an emphasis on fostering their sense of self-worth and pride.

Meng-Chuan Lai, MD, PhD - Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, The Hospital for Sick Children, and Departments of Psychiatry, Psychology and Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto

Meng-Chuan Lai is a psychiatrist and O'Brien Scholar at the Child and Youth Mental Health Collaborative at CAMH and SickKids, and assistant professor at the University of Toronto. He is honorary Director of Gender Research in Autism at the Autism Research Centre, University of Cambridge. His research investigates the cognitive and neuro/biological bases of autism and associated neurodevelopmental conditions, and their emerging comorbidities. He specifically investigates how sex and gender act as risk, protective, and moderating mechanisms for the emergence/aetiology, identification/diagnosis, and behavioural presentation of neurodevelopmental conditions. A particular focus is on females with autism, and the relationships between autism and sexual differentiation, gender socialization, and sex/gender differences. Clinically he works at the Autism Spectrum and Mental Health Service and collaborates closely with colleagues at the Adult Neurodevelopmental Services, Margaret and Wallace McCain Centre for Child, Youth and Family Mental Health, and Cundill Centre for Child and Youth Depression at CAMH.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 12:00