Vice-President Nominees

INSAR Board Elections 2019

Cheryl Dissanayake, PhD, MAPS


Professor Dissanayake is the Founding Director and inaugural Chair of Australia’s first research centre dedicated to autism, the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre at La Trobe University, established in 2008. She has been an autism researcher since 1984 when she began her PhD at Monash University. On completion she undertook her postdoctoral training in the Sigman lab at UCLA, and has established and led an active research program since joining La Trobe University in 1996. Her research focus has been on understanding developmental mechanisms in autism particularly in infancy and early childhood, covering the areas of early identification, early intervention, and social-emotional and social-cognitive development. More recently, she has published in the area of adulthood, particularly regarding employment and mental health. In addition to her scholarly activities, with numerous grants and publications, Prof. Dissanayake was instrumental in bringing together Victorian and Australian autism researchers, having co-founded the Autism Victoria Research Group (in 2003), the Australasian Autism Research Alliance (in 2005), the Australasian Autism Research Collaboration (in 2009) and the Australasian Society for Autism Research (2011), a member based society of which she is vice-President. She is also a Project Leader in the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism, and sits on the editorial boards of Autism Research and the Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Professor Dissanayake is amongst the first ten scholars to be inaugurated as a Fellow of INSAR at its annual conference in Rotterdam in May, 2018.

Personal Statement:
I have been an INSAR member for over 15 years, with a keen interest in promoting autism science across the globe, particularly in low resource nations where much work remains in translating our key findings into evidence-based practice, and doing so in culturally sensitive ways. I aim to work within INSAR to narrow the gap between research and practise, and enhance engagement with the autistic community in achieving this. I am also committed to building capacity amongst junior researchers to advance autism science internationally. I value the opportunity to serve INSAR as Vice President.


M. Daniele Fallin, PhD

  Bio sketch:
Dr. Daniele Fallin is the Sylvia and Harold Halpert Professor and Chair of the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH) and Director of the Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities at JHSPH. Dr. Fallin is a genetic epidemiologist whose research focuses on genetic and environmental risk factors for ASD, and how this information can inform actionable strategies for prevention of disability. Specifically, her team works to understand how environments, behaviors, and genetic as well as epigenetic variation contribute to risk for ASD and related conditions. She is PI of multiple NIH, CDC, and privately funded grants. She has served on several NIH study sections including past full membership on Behavioral Genetics and Epidemiology (BGES) and current membership on Neurological, Aging, and Muscular Epidemiology (NAME). She has also served on the Autism Speaks Science Advisory Board, as a Special Editor for Genetics for the journal Epidemiology, and is currently on the Editorial Board for Genetic Epidemiology and Autism Research. Dr. Fallin has also developed and now teaches, in collaboration with Dr. Li-Ching Lee, a summer institute and full term course on Autism and Public Health. Lastly, Dr. Fallin encourages ASD-focused work throughout Johns Hopkins by promoting and overseeing the funding of student and faculty pilot research projects through the Wendy Klag Center.

Personal Statement:
As a genetic epidemiologist studying the environmental risks for ASD in the context of genetic background, I have benefitted from engagement and collaboration across a broad set of ASD researchers and disciplines. INSAR has been instrumental in bringing people together to enable such cross-collaboration, and I feel it is important to give back to a society and its members who have been so helpful to me and so impactful to the fields of ASD research and advocacy. I am particularly interested in continuing to expand the training and mentorship opportunities for students and junior faculty and to finding ways to engage leaders in related fields to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas that could benefit the ASD community.


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