Dr Sarah Stephenson

Murdoch Children Research Institute
Research Field: Epilepsy, Genetics

Epilepsy is a serious brain disorder that typically presents in childhood and is associated with cognitive, intellectual and behavioural disabilities and an increased risk of sudden death. In some children, seizures cannot be fully controlled by medication. A major cause of drug-resistant epilepsy is a malformation of cortical development (MCD), which accounts for ~50% of childhood epilepsies that require surgery. Surgery to remove the dysplastic tissue is often the only effective treatment to control seizures in these individuals. 

Dr Stephenson and her team have established one of the world’s largest biorepositories of surgically resected MCD tissue, enabling advanced methods to deduce the composition of lesions and identify the molecular mechanisms of seizures. Sarah’s innovative analyses of resected brain tissue will drive understanding of the dysregulated brain functions underlying epilepsy, facilitate personalised medicine and better care for patients.

In 2018 Sarah co-founded Queers In Science to encourage an inclusive environment for LGBTIQA+professionals and students in STEMM.

Sarah completed her PhD in 2015 at the University of Melbourne. She is now currently a team leader within the neurogenetics group at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.