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Keynote Speakers

Professor Jonathan Green

Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Manchester, Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, Manchester, United Kingdom

Jonathan Green studied medicine at Cambridge, Paediatrics in London and Psychiatry in Oxford before establishing his team in Manchester, UK with a clinical and research focus on early relational and social development, particularly the developmental science and early intervention for autism.

Jonathan led the first RCT of an infancy prodromal intervention for autism (iBASIS) and a post-diagnostic psychosocial intervention trial (PACT), which both showed reduction in autism symptom severity, sustained for 2 and 6 years respectively post-treatment. PACT has been widely implemented internationally and adapted and tested for the low-income context using task-shifting (PASS). Clinically, he runs a specialist Social Development Clinic undertaking assessment and treatment innovation with ASD and other impairments of social development in children.

Jonathan has been associate editor for JCPP, part of the UK NICE guideline group for autism treatments and on an MRC methodology research group into process and causal analysis in clinical trials. He is an NIHR Senior Investigator.

Studies in developmental science from infancy, particularly using prospective sibling designs and within the individual differences tradition, have transformed our conceptualisation and understanding of autistic development. In parallel, a new generation of intervention models has emerged, grounded in this developmental science and differing significantly from previous autism intervention paradigms. In my lecture I will describe the origin, practice and evidence for two of these new interventions; a pre-emptive intervention strategy from infancy (iBASIS), and a post-diagnostic strategy from pre-school (PACT) – both of which have shown sustained developmental effects. I will discuss what this work tells us about developmental science, and also how such intervention can fit into a comprehensive care strategy for autism in early development.


Professor Helen Milroy

Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Professor at the University of Western Australia, Commissioner with the National Mental Health Commission, Australia

Helen Milroy is a descendant of the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia but was born and educated in Perth. Currently Helen is a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Professor at the University of Western Australia and Commissioner with the National Mental Health Commission. Helen has been on state and national mental health advisory committees and boards with a particular focus on Indigenous mental health as well as the wellbeing of children. From 2013-2017 Helen was a Commissioner for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.


Dr Rosario Montirosso

Chief, 0-3 Centre for the at-risk Infant, Scientific Institute, IRCCS Eugenio Medea, Bosisio Parini, Italy

Rosario Montirosso is chief of the 0-3 Centre for the at-Risk Infant at the Scientific Institute, IRCCS Eugenio Medea in Bosisio Parini, (Italy) (www.emedea.it). Since 2000 his research has been addressed to study of at-risk mother–infant dyads (e.g., prematurity, neurodevelopmental disability). In recent years he has expanded his research to include neuroendocrine and epigenetic changes associated with early adverse experiences. In the context of his research work he has managed extensive data sets, as well as multiple national and international collaborations. Clinically, he has been working on parent-infant relationship difficulties in at-risk infants for twenty-five years. Recently, he is studying the effects of early parental intervention and affective touch on epigenetics variations in infants at-risk.

Recent advances in epigenetics provide new perspectives for the bio-behavioral sciences and for understanding how early experience can affect infant’s developmental plasticity. Specifically, it has been established that early variations in parental care – especially through tactile experiences – can have a long-lasting impact on the infant’s stress regulation. Importantly, although caregiver’s sensitivity implies higher-order social cognitive skills such as mentalization, recent studies highlight that most of parenting relies on nonverbal, bodily based, interactive behavior which is a critical factor for dyadic socio-emotional attunement. Recently it has been identified a system of affective touch sensitive nerves – called C-tactile afferents (CT) - in the skin that provide the neurobiological substrate for a touch system that encodes the emotional qualities of skin touch. In my talk, I will provide an integrated perspective on embodied parenting in which early adverse experiences, interpersonal tactile exchanges and epigenetic mechanisms may jointly contribute to developmental trajectories in infants at-risk.


Dr Kate Rosenblum

Professor Psychiatry, Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Michigan, United States of America

Dr. Rosenblum is a clinical and developmental psychologist and Professor of Psychiatry, Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Michigan, where she directs Zero to Thrive, a multidisciplinary program focused on research, training, and service to promote the wellbeing of families with young children who have experienced adversity.

Dr. Rosenblum directs the Infant and Early Childhood Clinic, a multidisciplinary training service that delivers trauma-informed treatment to children and their families.  Her research focuses on the development and evaluation of relationship-focused interventions for vulnerable families who have experienced significant disruptions, including separations, trauma, and/or loss (e.g., military families, children involved in the child welfare system). In these contexts her work focuses on strengthening protective factors to enhance resilience.   Dr. Rosenblum currently serves as the Vice President of the Board of the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health, and is a strong advocate for relationship-focused, trauma-informed practices across early childhood systems.

Very young children and their families are significantly impacted by experiences of trauma, stress and adversity. Research over the past 30 years confirms that strong early relationships provide a protective buffer that promotes resilience and allows children to thrive. Early relationships are the “strong roots’” that provide children with the emotional nourishment and resilience they need to branch out, grow and thrive. This presentation will elaborate on the power of relational health promotion with caregivers and young children through universal promotion (including early relational health screening in pediatric primary care and home visiting), prevention (“Mom Power” and the Strong Roots Programs), and intervention (Infant Mental Health Home Visiting). The common focus across these approaches is strengthening parental reflective capacity. This, in turn, helps parents recognize and respond with empathy and sensitivity to their children’s needs, which enhances and supports mutual delight. Special attention will be paid to the integration of video feedback and review with families in these and other programs. Finally, Dr. Rosenblum will share evaluation data that illustrate how relationship-focused work can enhance parent mental health, alter the function of empathy circuits in the “parental brain”, and strengthen early relationships.