Past Studies

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.

Past Studies by MacART Members

 

The list below shows completed research studies and projects that were conducted by MacART members and our partners and collaborators. 

 

The Pandemic Canadian Autism Needs Assessment Survey

Funded by:

Autism Speaks Canada

Researchers:

Dr. Stelios Georgiades, Dr. Jonathan Lai, and Colleagues.

Study Description:

The McMaster Autism Research Team partnered with Autism Speaks Canada and the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance to develop, implement, and analyze the Pandemic Canadian Autism Needs Assessment – a survey where respondents shared their experiences to help inform on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Study Period:

April 2020 - October 2020

More Information: This website highlights some key takeaways from the results of the survey and links to full and highlights survey reports. Please also see this news article released by MacART about our involvement in this initiative.

 

SAAAC Mobile Developmental Outreach Clinic

Funded by:

Autism Speaks Canada

Researchers:

Dr. Stelios Georgiades, Anna Kata, and Colleagues.

Study Description:

Minority families of low socioeconomic status may be more likely to receive a delayed diagnosis due to several reasons including language barriers, cultural stigma, lack of networks, and unfamiliarity with navigating the developmental health system. The South Asian Autism Awareness Centre (SAAAC) works to support new Canadian and low-income families in accessing developmental health care. From 2018-2020, SAAAC ran the Mobile Developmental Outreach Clinic (M-DOC), funded by Autism Speaks Canada, that provided developmental assessments and screening in low-income, racially diverse urban populations to help put families on a path to diagnosis and early intervention. MacART is helping to conduct the evaluation component of this study.

Study Period:

September 2019 - March 2020

 

Preventable Health Inequalities in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Funded by:

Hamilton Health Sciences, McMaster University

Researchers:

Dr. Stelios Georgiades and Colleagues.

Study Description:

Investigate whether or not adaptive functioning skills in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are related to social and economic inequalities; and examine the extent to which these inequalities are associated with wait-time to treatment initiation.

Study Period: January 2016 - December 2019

 

Correction of Neuronal Function in Autism

Funded by:

The Brain Canada Foundation, The Azrieli Foundation

Researchers:

Dr. Laurie Doering and Colleagues.

Study Description:

In the developing brain, cells called astrocytes produce substances that help to ensure that communication signals in the brain are normal. Astrocytes and the substances they make are affected in neurodevelopmental disorders like autism, altering the brain functions that control learning, memory, and behaviour. Researchers will use different biological and genetic techniques to attempt to correct the communication patterns in the brain. Both mice and fruit flies (Drosophila) will be used to model this condition. The study’s results will help determine if there are ways to counteract the intellectual and social disabilities associated with autism, leading to new treatment strategies.

Study Period:

May 2014 - April 2019

 

Investing in Primary and Secondary Prevention: Economic Forecasting to Inform Policies Regarding Amortization of Program Costs

Funded by:

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), J.W. McConnell Foundation

Researchers:

Dr. Stelios Georgiades and Colleagues.

Study Description:

This project is a collaboration with CHEPA – the Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis – and includes a multidisciplinary group of experts. The research has two goals: 1. To develop a framework that lays an analytic foundation to support implementation of cost amortization in prevention and early intervention; and 2. To conduct four economic forecasting simulations that illustrate the analytic framework in action in the areas identified by CIHR in the call for proposals. One of the four simulations is an integrated autism program based on intensive behavioural interventions and applied behaviour analysis (child and youth health).

Study Period: May 2018 - April 2019

 

Expanding Summer Employment Opportunities for Adolescents and ASD in the Job-Train Program

Funded by:

Autism Speaks Canada

Researchers:

Dr. Briano Di Rezze, Dr. Stelios Georgiades, Dr. Geoff Hall, Dr. Teresa Bennett, and Colleagues.

Study Description:

This study aims to replicate the Job-Train Proogram, as it is the only paid summer employment program that integrates employment training, support and experience for adolescents with ASD. Over the 13-week program, students learn skills and receive support in a weekly Job Club with peers and job coaches. The Job Club is paired with an 8-week paid summer work experience on the McMaster campus (2 half days/week). This unique program integrates involvement from parents and educators to ensure that new learning is generalized to home and future co-op.

Study Period: January 2018 - January 2019

 

Job Training Program - Preparing youth with autism spectrum disorder for employment: A cross-context transitions approach

Funded by:

Autism Speaks Canada

Researchers:

Dr. Briano Di Rezze, Dr. Stelios Georgiades, Dr. Geoff Hall, Dr. Teresa Bennett, and Colleagues.

Study Description:

Most young people with ASD leave school without the skills needed to succeed in the workplace, in this program study, youth will be given the opportunity to learn those skills. After comprehensive assessments, they will participate in group learning experiences and be provided with the support of a job coach, who will assist them during a co-op job placement, and address the individual skills and challenges they face in securing and maintaining employment. Workshops for caregivers and employers are also provided, focusing on the education, support, mentorship and benefits of employing individuals with ASD. The JTP is the result of a collaboration between MacART, the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board, and Woodview Mental Health and Autism Services.

Study Period: May 2016 - August 2016

 

 

The TIDE (tideglusib) Study

Funded by:

Ontario Brain Institute, Brain Canada

Researchers:

Dr. Evdokia Anagnostou, Dr. Teresa Bennett, Robert Nicolson, and Colleagues.

Study Description:

The Province of Ontario Neurodevelopmental Network (POND) is conducting new research to learn whether or not the medication tideglusib has a positive effect on social behaviour or repetitive behaviours in children between the ages 12 to 17 with a diagnosis of ASD.

Study Period: January 2016 - June 2017

 

The Social Determinants of Children's Developmental Health

Funded by:

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)

Researchers:

Dr. Magdalena Janus, Dr. Eric Duku, Dr. Stelios Georgiades, Dr. Teresa Bennett, and Colleagues.

Study Description:

To establish and analyze the first pan-Canadian population-level database on children’s developmental health that contains information about groups of people with shared social and economic characteristics, such as their income or occupations. From 2016 to 2018, Canada-wide Early Development Instrument (EDI) records from 2004 to 2014, representing over 700,000 children, will be linked to Canada Census and Income Tax filer data. Data about social and economic status derived from these databases will be used to predict how vulnerable children may be to poor health and social developmental in different neighbourhoods.

Study Period: July 2015 - March 2020