New chair in autism sets roadmap for enhanced collaboration

Stelios Georgiades is the inaugural holder of the McMaster Children’s Hospital Chair in Autism and Neurodevelopment.

A few years ago, Stelios Georgiades looked around and found several small pockets of researchers across McMaster University studying autism.

He brought them together with clinicians at the McMaster Children’s Hospital to create an active research program, called the McMaster Autism Research Team or MacART, to improve clinical care for children and their families.

Georgiades, the inaugural holder of the McMaster Children’s Hospital Chair in Autism and Neurodevelopment, will spend the next decade working with his team to improve care for children with autism and other neurodevelopment conditions in Hamilton and across Canada.

The new position has been established through the support of Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation, along with McMaster’s department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, where he is an associate professor.

As chair, working with others at the university and Hamilton Health Sciences’ McMaster Children’s Hospital (MCH), Georgiades will enhance  leadership, advocacy, research and partnerships to improve the lives of children with autism and neurodevelopmental conditions.

He will add to the evidence base needed for improved, personalized, and family-centred care offered by MCH and beyond.

“There are so many inequalities across Canada for children with autism and neurodevelopmental conditions, and what is available often depends on where you live and how much money you have to supplement public funds for intervention,” Georgiades says.

“We are working collaboratively with families and stakeholders to change this, building regional, provincial, and national networks that integrate research, training, practice and policy.”

Georgiades has seen first-hand how MacART collaborations with a focus on solving specific issues can create synergy that drives action.

“There is an urgent need for new evidence, found through research, to be brought into clinical practice,” he says.

“We work directly with the McMaster Children’s Hospital’s autism program, and instead of research being parallel to clinical care, we are embedding it into the clinical pathways for the benefit of children and families.”

Georgiades is also known for co-creating the child health specialization of McMaster’s Bachelor of Health Sciences Honours program.

“McMaster is one of Canada’s top research universities and known for our ambition to have impact, through excellence, to advance health,” says Paul O’Byrne, dean and vice-president of McMaster’s Faculty of Health Sciences.

“Dr. Georgiades has proven that he is innovative, collaborative and impactful, making him the right person for this new position.”

Georgiades is also a member of the Offord Centre for Child Studies of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences.  He received his bachelor and master’s degrees from the University of Oregon, followed by his PhD at McMaster.

“The work enabled by this Chair will benefit patients and their families, today and into the future,” says Bruce Squires, President of McMaster Children’s Hospital.

“This offers a real-time opportunity to influence clinical treatment and practice, while at the same time influencing policy makers with evidence-based research and recommendations.”

Georgiades’ work will be “transformative” for patients and families, says Pearl Veenema, CEO, Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation.

“I have been so impressed by Stelios’ work that the decision to enable donor support for this chair was a priority.”

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