Dr Lisa Gillinder is a trailblazing neurologist who is the only female doctor in Australia qualified to practice stereo-electroencephalography (SEEG), the first person to undertake an epilepsy fellowship in Queensland and the first person to find a link between antibodies and epilepsy.

Dr Gillinder works as an Epileptologist at the Mater Advanced Epilepsy Unit in South Brisbane where she uses a diagnostic method in which electrodes are inserted into the brain to determine the source of epilepsy. This is a highly skilled approach drawing upon the latest technology from electrical engineering, signal processing, robotics and image processing to identify an abnormal brain region that is causing seizures and allow for its removal.

Dr Gillinder was among the first to apply this technique to the problem of autoimmune epilepsy, which was only formally recognized as an epilepsy subtype in 2017. “I am hoping my work will help doctors to identify patients with this condition and they will no longer be misdiagnosed,” she said. “Epilepsy affects more than 250,000 Australians, with one-third of patients not responsive to standard therapies and some of these patients are having multiple seizures a day. By utilising a surgical method and applying it to a medical problem in a field that is so technologically advanced we have the opportunity to create new treatment options for these patients.”

Dr Gillinder’s work has been ground breaking as she has found almost all of the patients had a significant reduction in their seizures after they were treated with immunotherapy and several became completely seizure free. Dr Gillinder believes correctly diagnosing these patients is vital as immunotherapy is not typically offered to epilepsy patients. These people had been terribly disabled but are now able to return to work and live more normal lives because they received the right treatment for their condition.

Dr Gillinder has received many accolades for her continued work in both research and clinical medicine including winning the Women in Technology 2019 Rising Star Award, being named a finalist in the Research Australia 2019 Frontiers Research Award and receiving a Betty McGrath Fellowship for research.

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