It is a huge privilege and pleasure to take up the reins as President of INSAR! I must thank Helen Tager-Flusberg for all her help and guidance during the past year, during which I have been President-Elect and able to shadow the fantastic job she has done. She, and the other past Board-members (David Amaral, Laura Klinger, Lonnie Zwaigenbaum, Kevin Pelphrey and Nancy Minshew), have achieved so much for our professional organization, most notably establishing a strategic plan and making the Society more truly international in its reach.
The wonderful success of the International Meeting for Autism Research in Donostia/San Sebastian last month is a testament to the efforts of the Past-President and Board, and especially of Joaquin Fuentes (Conference Chair) and Thomas Bourgeron (Program Chair). I hope that many of you were able to be there, and to enjoy the beautiful location and sparkling scientific program. A particular highlight for me was the talk by Maureen Durkin, stressing the need for a more global effort in autism research. She emphasized the need for free and open-access to diagnostic and research measures – something I hope that INSAR can spearhead. I also hugely enjoyed meeting so many enthusiastic and inspirational students and early career scientists at the ‘Meet the Experts’ lunch; I certainly learned a lot! For those of you who weren't able to come to IMFAR 2013, you can catch up on the main sessions via the INSAR website in coming weeks.
Because IMFAR began before INSAR, not everyone realizes that membership of INSAR is about far more than accessing the annual conference. We want to make sure everyone knows that INSAR is more than a conference – it is your professional society, here to promote, support and encourage autism research worldwide (for details see the website: http://www.autism-insar.org/membership). Please do let me know how we can do more for our members, send me your ideas for new initiatives and innovative ways that INSAR can meet our aim: to provide scientific collaboration, mentorship, and education to better the lives of the individuals and families living with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
I am enormously excited to be part of the new INSAR Board, and looking forward so much to working with David Mandell (Vice President), Jamie McPartland (Treasurer), and Connie Kasari (Secretary). We are also fortunate to have Helen staying on for this year as Past-President, and Laura Grofer Klinger lending us her expertise as Past-Treasurer, as well as Tony Bailey continuing as Editor of Autism Research. I would also like to thank those who work tirelessly behind the scenes: Jennifer Gentry and Sue Berry of Association Resources, and Joe Dymek and Jennifer Marshall of Conference Direct. I am really lucky to be part of such a vibrant and well-run society, and I will do my best to continue the great work that has been done.
I look forward to hearing your ideas for INSAR's future development, and to meeting many of you at IMFAR 2014 in Atlanta (May 15–17).