Keynote Speakers

SSBP 2023

Keynote Speakers

Confirmed Keynote speakers at SSBP 2023 will include (in alphabetical order):

Professor Dawn Adams

Brisbane, Australia

Professor Dawn Adams is the Director of the Autism Centre of Excellence, Griffith University. As well as being an academic, she is also a Clinical Psychologist. She has published over 75 research articles and been awarded AUD$4.75 million in research funding.


Dawn uses both her clinical and research experience to inform her work in the area of anxiety, mental health and wellbeing in autistic individuals. Her work in this area has led her to co-develop and evaluating an autism-specific anxiety prevention/intervention for autistic preschoolers and led work on identifying the challenges autistic people face when accessing mental health services in Australia. To ensure her work is driven by, and has immediate relevance to, the autistic and autism communities, all of Dawn’s current research grants and projects are collaborations with community and/or clinical partners.

Professor Adams will give a presentation on ‘Understanding mental health and well-being in the context of neurodiversity‘ at SSBP 2023

Bruno F
Professor Bruno Falissard

Paris, France

After some initial training in mathematics and fundamental physics (Ecole Polytechnique, Paris), Bruno Falissard engaged in medical studies and specialized in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in 1991. His PhD was in biostatistics and his post doc in psychometrics and exploratory multimensional methods. He was assistant professor in child and adolescent psychiatry in 1996-1997, associate professor in Public Health in 1997-2002 and full professor in Public health from 2002. He is at the head of the “Center of Epidemiology and Population Health” (600 members). He is co-author of many papers and books. He has a clinical activity in child and adolescent psychiatry. His personal areas of research are about methodology and epistemology of mental health research.  In 2015 he became president of IACAPAP (International Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions, the term ended in 2018) and member of the French Academy of Medicine. He was awarded the Ülkü Ülgür International Scholar Award by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in 2019. 

Professor Falissard will give a presentation on ‘Did we take the right train in promoting the concept of ‘Neurodevelopmental disorders’?‘ at SSBP 2023

Professor Walter Kaufmann


Dr. Walter Kaufmann is currently the Chief Scientific Officer for Anavex Life Sciences Corp. and an Adjunct Professor of Human Genetics at Emory University. He has over 25 years of clinical research experience in neurodevelopmental disorders, with emphasis on Rett syndrome and fragile X syndrome, during a career that has included full professorship at the medical schools of Johns Hopkins University and Harvard University. He has committed himself to laboratory investigations of molecular pathways, neuroimaging, animal models of disease, and clinical trials of targeted, disease-modifying therapies. His work helped to define Rett syndrome as a disorder of synaptogenesis, leading to a better understanding of its underlying mechanisms. He has conducted research on outcome measures and biomarkers in Down syndrome, Rett syndrome, and fragile X syndrome.


Dr. Kaufmann has also held several leadership positions, including advisor and reviewer to CDKL5, FOXG1, Rett syndrome, and fragile X syndrome advocacy groups. He is a member of the Scientific and Clinical Advisory Committee of the National Fragile X Foundation. Other positions he has held include Chair of the International Consortium on Rett Syndrome Clinical Researchers (RettSearch) and member of DSM-5’s Neurodevelopmental Disorders Work Group, which developed the current diagnostic guidelines for intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder. He has also served as member and chair of NIH and DoD (CDMRP) study sections reviewing grants on neurodevelopmental and other neurological disorders. He is also the Editor of the first book on clinical aspects of Rett syndrome (Mac Keith Press), section Editor for Pediatric Neurology for Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports, and a member of the editorial board of the journals Brain Sciences and Frontiers (Epigenomics & Epigenetics).

Professor Kaufmann will give a presentation on ‘Development of Targeted Treatments in Rett Syndrome‘ at SSBP 2023

Professor Mustafa Sahin

Boston, USA

Mustafa Sahin, M.D., Ph.D., is Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and Director the Rosamund Stone Zander Translational Neuroscience Center at BCH. He has established and directs and the Multidisciplinary Tuberous Sclerosis Program at Boston Children’s Hospital. The research in the Sahin laboratory is directed at understanding the cellular mechanisms of neuronal connectivity and their relationship to neurological dysfunction. His research focuses on tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) and related neurodevelopmental disorders using cell and animal model as well as clinical investigations. He is the PI of a Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network (RDCRN) studying the comparative pathobiology of TSC, PTEN and SHANK3 mutations in patients as well as co-PI of the BCH/HMS Intellectual and Developmental Disorders Research Center (IDDRC).

Professor Giacomo Vivanti

Philadelphia, USA

Giacomo Vivanti, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA, where he is the leader of the Early Detection and Intervention program. Additionally, he is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre at La Trobe University, Melbourne, and an Associate Editor of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. His research focuses on early learning processes and early intervention strategies for autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions. Dr Vivanti has presented at more than 100 national and international conferences on topics related to neurodevelopmental disorders, and he is the author of over 100 peer-reviewed scientific articles, chapters and books. He is consultant for clinical, research, and policy organizations related to autism in the US, Europe and Australia, including the US Department of Defense Autism Research Program and the US National Institute of Health.

Dr Vivanti will present on Phenotypic overlap between autism, Williams syndrome and Angelman syndrome

Professor Jo Van Herwegen

London, UK

Jo Van Herwegen is a professor in Developmental Psychology and Education at Institute of Education, UCL’s faculty for Education and Society, and director of the Child Development and Learning Difficulties lab. Her research focuses on improving educational outcomes for those with learning difficulties and neurodevelopmental disorders, using evidence from developmental psychology and educational neuroscience. Jo has co-edited two books and has written over 60 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Her research has been funded by a number of charities and research councils, including EEF, Nuffield Foundation, UKRI and ESRC. Her research has included both national and international studies focusing on intervention evaluations of mathematical programmes for those with SEND, evaluation of the SEND code of practice and EHCPs, issues and best practice around school transitions for those with SEND and CPD for educational staff as well as neuromyths related to those with SEND and impact of COVID19 for those with SEND.

She is currently Head of Research for the department of Psychology and Human Development and member of the executive committee for the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI).

Professor Van Herwegen will speak on: “Improving educational outcomes for young people with Williams syndrome: From theory to practice (and back again)

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