Lynette Sadleir, FRACP PhD

Clinical genetic correlation in familial epilepsy

Lynette did her paediatric training in New Zealand and then further training in Neurology in British Columbia Children’s Hospital, Vancouver. She evolved her interest in paediatric epilepsy and did her PhD on “The Electro-clinical Features of Typical Absence Seizures in untreated Children”. Since being back in New Zealand, she has developed a strong collaboration with Ingrid Scheffer and Sam Berkovic in Melbourne. Lynette’s major research interest is the clinical genetics of families with epilepsy.

Interview by Russell Dale


Summarise your main research interest.

My main interest is correlating clinical and genetic phenotypes in large families with epilepsy. I lead the Wellington Epilepsy Research Group and our aim is to discover new types of genetic epilepsy, refine the understanding of known epilepsy syndromes and with the help of my collaborators, identify new epilepsy genes.


Describe how you are making your research studies work?

I am employed in a joint clinical academic position with the University of Otago which allows me to have protected research time. I have established a referral network of adult and paediatric neurology from all over New Zealand. I have also been really fortunate to have developed great relationships with some amazing researchers.


What are the main challenges to your research aims?

The main challenge for me is my location. Although Wellington and New Zealand are fantastic places to live they are small which can lead to professional isolation and limited patient selection. This means it is really important to develop good networks and work collaboratively with my New Zealand and Australian colleagues. “Where there is a will there is a way”. One of the most important things is good communication. Our group has weekly video teleconferencing with our Melbourne collaborators and we visit the Melbourne group at least twice a year.


Multicentre research in New Zealand has generally not happened, any ideas why not?

It is essential to find people that share the same passions and have a good collaborative relationship with them. Inadequate time remains a major inhibitor of research I think.


What is your favourite activity in Wellington?

My favourite thing to do is to go for a hike in the hills of Wellington with my family.