The Martha and Vincent Wagar Intellectual Disability and Autism Research Fund Graduate Student Awards

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.

What is the Martha and Vincent Wagar Intellectual Disability and Autism Research Fund?

Established in 2021 from the estate of Vincent Wagar, this fund is to provide support for intellectual disability and/or autism research within the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University.  

The Martha and Vincent Wagar Intellectual Disability and Autism Research Fund award provides graduate students in the Faculty of Health Sciences the opportunity to pursue leading-edge research, specifically in the areas of autism and/or intellectual disability. Specifically, the fund will support costs (e.g. salaries, supplies, equipment) related to innovative projects underway in the area of intellectual disability and/or autism research in the Faculty of Health Sciences.  

This annual award competition is designed for candidates who demonstrate excellence in their research and are interested in or are pursuing graduate/post-doctoral work related to autism and/or intellectual disability in the Faculty of Health Sciences. Graduate student and post-doctoral fellow awards will be awarded on the recommendation of a selection committee. Funded through the generosity of the estate of Vincent Wager, a variable number of awards will be available each year at a value of $5,000 for Master’s-level students, $10,000 for PhD-level students, and $20,000 for post-doctoral fellows.  

Funds may be used to cover salary, supplies, research equipment, and/or reimburse expenditures including conference travel/fees, workshops, and other expenses (eligible expenses are normally, but not limited to, those allowed by the Federal Tri-Council Agencies; would comply with University policies and procedures; and must directly support the purpose of the outlined research). The award amount would be transferred to a research project account created through Health Research Services; any surplus funds remaining at the end of the project would be transferred back to the trust.



Applicants must be applying to or enrolled in a graduate (Master’s or PhD) program or post-doctoral fellowship within the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University in order to be eligible for this award.


Application Process

Applications will be requested and reviewed annually (approximately spring of each year, for a fall start date). That is, the committee will review applications during the summer and let applicants know their result, so that accounts can be created and funds can begin being accessed in the fall.

A short-list of applicants will be selected for interview by the selection committee, to be held by videoconference. Applications will be ranked based on their academic excellence and productivity, as well as the scientific merit and potential impact of their proposed research. 

Applications will consist of the following:  

  • Application form (click link to access)  
  • Cover letter/letter of intent – a brief description of the applicant’s background, interest in graduate studies, how their proposed project would be innovative and contribute to their training and career goals  
  • Curriculum vitae – using the Canadian Common CV website – CIHR Biosketch format
  • Copy of academic transcripts
  • Research proposal – description of the research project, including rationale, objective, hypothesis, methods, proposed analyses, potential impact (maximum 2 pages, single spaced)  
  • High-level research budget (click link to access template) – list of anticipated research items and approximate costs
  • Two (2) letters of reference from individuals (other than the proposed supervisor) who have supervised the applicant’s previous research or academic work
  • Confirmation letter from identified supervisor(s) to supervise the proposed research

Applicants should combine these materials into a single PDF and submit via email to

The deadline for 2023 has now passed. Thank you to all applicants for your interest!



This fellowship is possible from the generous support of the estate of Vincent Wagar, via the Martha and Vincent Wagar Intellectual Disability and Autism Research Fund. 



For questions, please contact Anna Kata at