Autism: New experts, new pathways
McGill presents its first cohort of autism researchers.
McGill presents its first cohort of autism researchers
By the end of their third summer school this week, six researchers will have completed a three-year training program for autism research. Created in 2003 by Dr. Éric Fombonne, a leading researcher and psychiatry professor at McGill University, the program is unique both in its form and content. It brings together researchers interested in pursuing their work with the goal of identifying the cerebral, genetic and cognitive mechanisms responsible for autism and for pervasive development disorders (PDDs), which affect an average of one child in 165.
"The main goal of our program is to recruit and train researchers to run autism research programs in disciplines such as genetics, brain imaging, epidemiology, neurology and psychology," explained Dr. Fombonne, who also heads the psychiatry department at the McGill University Health Centre's Montreal Children's Hospital.
Through their genetic observations and individual study of specific aspects of autism and PDDs, the first researchers to graduate from the program will be able to better diagnose autism and characterize patients. The results of their research will help ensure that patients benefit from better case management and more effective therapeutic strategies.
Nine major Canadian universities are participating in Dr. Fombonne's autism research training program, including the two training sites at McGill and McMaster universities. They coordinate activities at seven other institutions: Université de Montréal, the CHUL Research Centre, the University of Toronto, Simon Fraser University, Dalhousie University, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Alberta. Each researcher is teamed up with a mentor for the entire training program. Every year since it was created, the program has recruited a small number of handpicked researchers.