MacART 3rd Autism Research Symposium

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.

MacART held its 3rd symposium on Friday, May 26th, 2023 at McMaster Innovation Park, from approximately 9:00am to 4:00pm. This year’s symposium theme was “Autism and Mental Health: Towards an Ecological Lifespan Approach”.

We coupled expert talks from leaders in the field with innovation and implementation sessions to engage key partners and collaborators in how to bridge the research-to-practice gap across child, youth, and adult mental health services. We were excited to have key partners and collaborators participate in discussions that will inform and improve interdisciplinary collaborations moving forward.

Our keynote speakers were Dr. Micah Mazurek and Dr. Yona Lunsky, each of whom focused on this theme across the lifespan – from childhood, to youth/adolescence, to adulthood. 

In our interactive and collaborative innovation sessions, we worked together in groups to broaden the lens on mental health using an ecological framework to include child, youth, and adult well-being within families, schools, neighbourhoods, and other contexts.

This theme is a topic ripe for innovation, and it produced excellent discussions leading to the identification of collaborators' priorities related to the intersections of Autism and mental health! Thank you to all who joined us.

Friday, May 26, 2023 -
09:00 to 16:00
McMaster Innovation Park (MIP), Hamilton, Ontario

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Micah Mazurek

Dr. Micah Mazurek, University of Virginia

Keynote: "A Contextual Approach to Mental Health and Autism"
(See slides HERE)

Dr. Mazurek is Novartis U.S. Foundation Professor of Education at the University of Virginia, Director of the Supporting Transformative Autism Research (STAR) initiative, Director of the Blue Ridge Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (Blue Ridge LEND) program, and a licensed clinical psychologist with expertise in autism. She has an active program of federally-funded research focused on understanding and improving outcomes for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. Her current projects focus on developing new tools, techniques, and technologies for improving diagnosis, treatment, and access to care. Her work also focuses on examining positive and negative aspects of screen-based technology use, and on improving health and mental health outcomes for children and adults on the autism spectrum.

Dr. Yona Lunsky

Dr. Yona Lunsky, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

Keynote: "Partnerships in Autism Mental Health Research" 

(See slides HERE)


Dr. Lunsky is the Director of the Azrieli Adult Neurodevelopmental Centre and the Health Care Access Research and Developmental Disabilities Program (H-CARDD) at CAMH in Toronto. She is also Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine at University of Toronto, Adjunct scientist at ICES, and a clinical psychologist. Her work focuses on mental health and developmental disabilities, including autism, in adulthood. She has a strong interest in building bridges between science, policy and practice, and in working collaboratively with adults with disabilities, families and service providers to design innovative approaches to address healthcare gaps.