MacART Inaugural Autism Research Stakeholder 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 made an official debut with its inaugural Autism Research Stakeholder Symposium held in Hamilton on January 15, 2016. More than 150 participants, representing the full spectrum of stakeholders, including patient advocates, educators, clinicians, researchers, and policy makers, came together to discuss and plan collaborations to help advance autism care through meaningful research. With a focus on Early Interventions, the symposium featured the world-renowned expert on early interventions in ASD, Dr. Connie Kasari, Professor of Human Development and Psychology in School of Education and Department of Psychiatry at UCLA and founding member of the Center for Autism Research and Treatment at UCLA.

To learn more about the ideas and knowledge that came from the Symposium, please see our report HERE


Friday, January 15, 2016 -
08:30 to 15:00
McMaster Innovation Park (MIP), Hamilton, Ontario
Keynote Speaker Dr. Connie Kasari

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Connie Kasari

Dr. Connie Kasari, world-renowned expert on early interventions in ASD, Professor of Human Development and Psychology in School of Education and Department of Psychiatry at UCLA and founding member of the Center for Autism Research and Treatment at UCLA.

Mrgaret Spoelstra

Margaret Spoelstra, Autism Ontario

Marg Spoelstra is the Executive Director of Autism Ontario and a Member of the Order of Canada. A special education teacher by training, Marg Spoelstra has spent the past 35 years working with individuals with a variety of special needs, especially those with autism.

Dr Bill Mahoney

Dr. Bill Mahoney

Dr. Bill Mahoney is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at McMaster University and the medical leader of the Autism Spectrum Disorder Services at the McMaster Children’s Hospital.

Sarah Hardy

Sarah Hardy, MCYS

Sarah Hardy is the Manager of the Autism Policy Team at the Ministry of Children and Youth Services where she oversees the policy and program development for the autism programs funded by the ministry.

Hanna Ziada

Hanna Ziada, MCYS

Hanna Ziada is a Senior Policy and Program Analyst at the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. Her current role includes leading the implementation of the new early intervention program in Ontario at four demonstration sites.

Discussant Dr. Peter Szatmari


Dr. Peter Szatmari

Dr. Peter Szatmari is the Chief of Child and Youth Mental Health Collaborative at The Hospital for Sick Children and Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. He is also the Patsy & Jamie Anderson Chair in Child and Youth Mental Health and a Professor and Head of the Division of Child and Youth Mental Health at the University of Toronto.