News & Press: President's Message

Message from the INSAR President - August 2019

Thursday, August 15, 2019  
Posted by: Mary Cirese
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President’s Message – August 2019 Annual Meeting and Growth, INSAR Institute, Global Initiatives and Chile Regional Meeting

INSAR 2019, held in Montreal, Canada on May 2nd – 4th, was a thought-provoking success. The over 2,500 registrants from more than 50 countries were informed by over 1,900 presentations (poster, oral, panel and keynote). Also, for the first time INSAR supported the attendance of community constituents by offering a limited number of reduced rate registrations. The Society owes a debt of gratitude to Evdokia Anagnostou, Joseph Buxbaum, Emily Jones, Mayada Elsabbagh, Eve-Marie Quintin as well as Jennifer Gentry of INSAR and Joe Dymek of Conference Direct for all their efforts in making the Annual Meeting and Local Community Conference such a success. 

The attendance for INSAR 2019 was the highest on record. Indeed, the average conference registration for the last four years was 2,168 (Montreal, Rotterdam, San Francisco, Baltimore), which is 19% greater than the average attendance of the previous four years of 1,826 (Salt Lake City, Atlanta, San Sebastian, Spain, Toronto, Canada). This attests to the growth and health of the Society, but also means that the conference now requires larger conference venues to fulfill its goals.

The INSAR Annual Meeting also attracts increasing amounts of media and social media coverage. The Communication Committee (Alison Singer, Chair) reported that research reports from the conference were picked up by US News and World Reports, Medical Health News, Health Day, CTV News and CBS Montreal, Nation Post, among others. Social media, as one might expect, provided even more active information distribution platforms. The Communication Committee tracked 9,600 tweets by 2,800 authors with hashtags #INSAR2019 or #AUTISMINSAR. Posts containing these hashtags then appeared on 58 million individuals’ timelines over the four days of the meeting. Facebook Live streamed the May 2nd INSAR Press Conference which was viewed by 4,700 + individuals on the INSAR Facebook page and reached 31,031 individuals’ timelines. So, what is said at INSAR doesn’t just reverberate within the conference, it informs and matters to the community.

The INSAR Institute webinar series just wrapped up at the end of July. All current INSAR members have access to the recordings as a benefit of membership. INSAR thanks the Student and Trainee Committee for organizing and hosting this webinar series for the fourth year.

INSAR continued to expand its global outreach efforts in at least two ways. First, starting after INSAR 2023, the Society plans to hold conferences outside of North America on a more frequent three year cycle, rather than every five years. Second, INSAR is moving forward with a new Global Senior Leaders (GLS) initiative championed by Past-President Simon Baron-Cohen. Global Senior Leaders will serve as: i) a point person in their country to inform the Society about issues of national and international importance that related to autism research in their country, ii) serve as a role model for autism research excellence in their country, thus increasing INSAR membership recruitment in their country, and iii) foster a trans-national research culture that facilitates multi-center collaboration and team science approaches. The INSAR Board appointed Declan Murphy (UK) and Petrus de Vries (South Africa) to form a steering committee to advance the GLS initiative. In short order, Declan and Petrus developed a stellar steering committee by June of 2019 comprised of Gauri Divan (India), Naoufel Gaddour (Tunisia), Angelina Kakooza-Mwesige (Uganda), Alexia Rattazzi (Argentina), Cheryl Dissanayake (Australia) and Evdokia Anagnostou (Canada) as initial representatives of the South-East Asia, Eastern Mediterranean, African, South American, Australian, and North American Regions.

Finally, the globalization of INSAR will be enhanced by this year’s Regional INSAR Meeting scheduled for October 17th – 19th in Puerto Varas, Chile. The meeting already has 610 paid registrations and is being organized by: Dr. Andrés Román Urrestarazu, Dr. Mónica Troncoso Schifferlli, Dr. Alejandra Méndez Fadol, and Dr. Gabriel Gatica Bahamonde. Invited speakers include: David Amaral, Simon Baron-Cohen, Gonzalo Cancino, Bishmadev Chakrabarti, Giancarlo De Ferrari, Guilliame Dumas, Mayada Elsabbagh, Heidi Feldman, Eric Fombonne, Francesca Happé, Catherine Lord, Roberto Toro, Varun Warrier and myself.

This will be the third Regional INSAR meeting since Shanghai in 2015 and Cape Town in 2017. The Chile meeting will have several research themes including, early detection and public health; infant, childhood and adolescent Published online in Wiley Online Library ( DOI: 10.1002/aur.2192 © 2019 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc. INSAR Autism Research 12: 1297–1298, 2019 1297 mental health, as well as autism and adults through the lifespan. Puerto Varas is located in the northern region of Chilean Patagonia and, by all indications, this will be a wonderful location for an exciting and successful 3rd INSAR Regional Meeting.

We thank all current INSAR members for their support of the Society. All current INSAR members receive a complimentary online subscription to Autism Research as one benefit of membership. Visit for more information on INSAR membership and events.

Peter Mundy
INSAR President (2019–2021)
University of California, Davis

Published online in Wiley Online Library (
2019 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
INSAR President’s Message – August 2019

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