Central study team – Australia

Associate Professor Helen Leonard, Chief Investigator

Helen has qualifications in medicine and public health.  She is Associate Professor at the University of Western Australia and Principal Research Fellow at the Telethon Kids Institute, where, on leaving active clinical practice in 2003, she independently established a vibrant multidisciplinary research group in childhood disability. Her 20 years of clinical experience in intellectual disability underpinned her commitment to develop the infrastructures to understand its determinants, and improve the health and quality of life of those affected and their families, particularly those from socioeconomically disadvantaged or vulnerable backgrounds. To this end, she established a population-based intellectual disability database in Western Australia, which, with its linkage to other WA population-based databases, is providing extremely valuable ongoing research output in relation to both autism and intellectual disability. Helen was also a member of an innovative international autism registry collaboration, previously funded by NIH as a “virtual and global” Autism Centre of Excellence, and has published widely in the field of autism.


Professor Sergio Starkstein, Principal Investigator

Professor Sergio Starkstein is Consultant Psychiatrist and Senior Honorary Research Fellow at the Medial School at The University of Western Australia. He has a long trajectory of more than two decades in the research and scientific study of autism, and a passion for diagnosing and supporting adults through clinical practice. In 2003, he established the first clinic for adults with autism in Western Australia, based at Fremantle Hospital where he has assessed several hundreds of individuals. His research contributions include being a pioneer of autism MRI imaging studies, development of a reliable and valid diagnostic screening instrument, and the study of neurodegenerative conditions and neuropsychiatric comorbidities that develop in adults with autism.  Sergio is a proud Argentinian, and avid football supporter.


Dr Emma Glasson, Research Fellow

Emma is a researcher at The University of Western Australia and the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth, Australia.  She has been an active autism researcher for around 25 years, particularly interested in diagnostic patterns and changes over time. She is also passionate about understanding the unique opportunities and challenges experienced by siblings of individuals with autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions, and exploring ways to enhance their mental health and wellbeing. She feels privileged to be collaborating with the Bristol team on this valuable STRATA study, and is looking forward to generating meaningful outcomes for autistic people through this unique international partnership driven by participatory design. Outside of worktime, Emma enjoys reading, getting outdoors, and volunteering.


Dr Bradleigh Hayhow, Co-investigator


Ms Katherine Hatch, Senior Research Officer

Katherine studied both Neuroscience and Psychology, with Honours, at the University of Western Australia (UWA). She has previously worked at the Neuropsychiatry Unit at UWA which researched Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson Disease and Strokes, where she gained experience working on randomised control trials. She also worked at the West Australian Sleep Disorders research Unit, primarily coordinating and running research projects investigating obstructive sleep apnoea and its relationship to depression, facial symmetry, sleep and long term cardiac outcomes. She is currently based at Fremantle Hospital working for UWA on the STRATA project, conducting all patient recruitment and assessment and coordinating the trial. Outside of work, Katherine is married with two children, and has a border collie called Ellie Mae. She loves yoga, camping, the beach and reading.


Don Hulme, Co-investigator


Eleanor Teo, Co-investigator