It is with absolute pleasure that Autism Alliance of Canada* is welcoming two Health System Impact Fellows to build capacity for advancing evidence-informed health system changes that will improve outcomes for Autistic Canadians and their families: Mackenzie Salt, Ph.D and Sara Lacarte Ph.D (c).
Dr. Mackenzie Salt
Dr. Mackenzie Salt is a postdoctoral fellow working with the Pathways in ASD study, the Offord Centre for Child Studies and the McMaster University Autism Research Team (MacART). He completed his PhD in Cognitive Science of Language in 2019 at McMaster University and has a background in qualitative linguistic research as well as research and study design involving autistic participants. His academic supervisor is Dr. Stelios Georgiades, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University, Co-Director of MacART and inaugural McMaster Children’s Hospital Chair in Autism and Neurodevelopment.
Dr. Salt recently completed the Certificate course in Family Engagement in Research offered by Kids Brain Health Network (KBHN) and CanChild, and has been advocating for and working to improve research engagement with the autism community since. Dr. Salt has designed a number of research engagement projects and also service evaluation projects for autism service providers incorporating research engagement principles. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of an all autistic editorial board for the Canadian Journal of Autism Equity.
For the duration of Dr. Salt’s Health System Impact Fellowship, co-funded with the Azrieli Foundation and Mitacs, he will be creating a model for evaluating health services for autistic adults that could be applied across the country. This framework will be informed by experts, clinicians, parents, autistic adults, and policymakers, and will be based on the WHO’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health framework, which focuses on functional abilities rather than diagnostic labels.
Sara Lacarte is a second year Ph.D. student in the Social and Behavioural Health Sciences Division of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. She is a Student Fellow with the Centre for Research in Work Disability Policy (CRWDP) and a Research Associate with the Institute for Work & Health (IWH). Sara’s academic supervisor is Dr. Emile Tompa, Director of the CRWDP and Senior Scientist at the IWH.
Together with Autism Alliance of Canada and the CRWDP, Sara’s research will further develop the National Autism Strategy with the goal of promoting equitable and sustainable employment of people with autism by influencing federal policies. Sara hopes that people with autism and their families will have access to resources and supports where and when they need them.
As the host organization, Autism Alliance of Canada looks forward to working closely with our academic partners at McMaster University, McMaster University Autism Research Team, the Offord Centre for Child Studies, the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, the Centre for Research in Work Disability Policy, and the Institute for Work & Health, to provide a stimulating mentorship and training experience to the Health System Impact Fellows. This partnership will also enable Autism Alliance of Canada to support the unique ideas and innovative approaches that each fellow will bring to the table to address real-world health system challenges in Canada.
About the Health System Impact Fellowship Program
On August 4, 2021, The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced on behalf of the Government of Canada and partners a total investment of more than $6 million for the Health System Impact Fellowship (HSIF) program. This year’s cohort includes more than 50 PhD students and postdoctoral fellows.
The Government of Canada is proud to support the Health System Impact Fellowship program. This program gives some of Canada’s most talented scholars hands-on experience where they can apply their skills, help improve our health care systems, and support the health and well-being of all Canadians. Congratulations to this year’s fellows.
*Autism Alliance of Canada was formerly known as the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance (CASDA). For more information regarding our name change, click here.