Ariel Cascio, a postdoctoral fellow at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM), recently received a much sought-after Banting Fellowship. The prestigious fellowship will support Dr. Cascio’s research project, entitled Developing Person-Oriented Ethics for Autism Research: Diversity, Inclusion, and Collaboration with Autism Advocates, under the supervision of Eric Racine, Director of the IRCM’s Pragmatic Health Ethics Research Unit.
While many studies involve participants with autism, there are still important gaps especially in studies that ask for the opinions and perspectives of people on the spectrum. Researchers might find it difficult to launch projects that address participants with autism spectrum conditions. That is why Ariel Cascio aims to develop ethics guidelines that could help researchers account for neurodiversity.
In order to do so, Dr. Cascio and her collaborators established a task force of stakeholders involved with autism such as people with autism, parents, researchers, advocacy organizations, and caregivers. The research team is currently preparing a report resulting from the task force’s feedback and recommendations, which will provide best practices for inclusion of people with autism in research.
The Banting Fellowship, which was awarded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), will allow Dr. Cascio to push her research even further. “It was important to put these concepts on paper, but now we want to test them out,” she said. “We would like to see how our suggestions impact the experience of autistic people participating in research, as it would help us enrich these guidelines. The Banting Fellowship will make that possible by carrying this project forward.”
Cascio also highlights that Banting fellowships help build a community of postdoctoral fellows across Canada. “I noticed another SSHRC Banting fellow who is studying autism as well,” she said. “We are currently in touch with him.”
About Banting Fellowships
The Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships program provides funding to the very best postdoctoral applicants, both nationally and internationally, who will positively contribute to the country's economic, social and research-based growth. Its objective is to attract and retain top-tier postdoctoral talent, develop their leadership potential, and position them for success as research leaders of tomorrow. Banting fellows receive $70,000 per year for a period of two years.