Mater Rising Star receives WiT Award

21/Oct/2019     Research

Mater Epileptologist Dr Lisa Gillinder has been awarded the Women in Technology Rising Star Award for Life Sciences which recognises her significant contribution to life science industries as an Epileptologist at the Mater Advanced Epilepsy Unit, and at the Princess Alexandra Hospital.

As a trailblazer in her industry, Dr Gillinder has been recognised for many achievements including being the first person to undertake a surgical epilepsy fellowship in Queensland and the first person to be trained in stereo electroencephalograph (SEEG) within Australia.

As the only female in a group of four epileptologists in Australia qualified and practising in SEEG Dr Gillinder was the first to describe an association between neuronal autoantibodies and perisylvian epilepsy, the main focus of work.

“At present between one and two per cent of the population, has epilepsy. Of this, one third will be refractory to medications meaning standard therapies are not effective in preventing seizures,” Dr Gillinder said.

“Our practice specialises in finding where in the brain a patients seizures are coming from and my research has established a link between neuronal autoantibodies and perisylvian epilepsy.  This work has the potential to reduce misdiagnosis and unnecessary medications or surgeries.

“This will ultimately improve understanding and accuracy in the diagnosis and management of epilepsy and allow clinicians to create more inclusive diagnostic criteria for autoimmune epilepsy. Patients will have access to more tailored treatment options to increase their chances of seizure freedom and this could potentially result in an effective cure for this subgroup of epilepsy.”

Her ultimate goal has always been to improve patient outcomes and she remains humbled by her award.

“I never expected to win, what matters most is ensuring patients have quality care and we effectively manage their illness giving them an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. The main goal of my work has always been to help people.

“I am fortunate I can work and conduct my research in Brisbane, there is excellent infrastructure in place and many highly skilled scientists and doctors in the field who are great to bounce ideas off. You can’t do this job without sharing ideas.”

Dr Gillinder’s work is supported by Mater Research and collaborative partnerships with the Translational Research Institute, University of Queensland, The Queensland Radium Institute, and the prestigious New York University.

“Working in this field it’s important to establish professional networks; the Women in Technology group is a leader in supporting women such as myself.

“As a society we need to change our thinking and create positive spaces for women. To other young women considering science and medicine as a career I would tell them to go for it and don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do.”

In 2018 Dr Gillinder was also awarded a prestigious and competitive Betty McGrath Fellowship from Mater Health and Mater Research designed to support researchers improve evidence-based clinical practice at Mater.

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