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Our people

Associate Professor Lynette SadleirProfessor Lynette Sadleir

Department of Paediatrics and Child Health

Professor Lynette Sadleir is a physician scientist with expertise in epilepsy phenotyping. She is the director of the Epilepsy Research Group and a paediatric epileptologist at Wellington Children's Hospital. Professor Sadleir is the president of the New Zealand League Against Epilepsy, the chair of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) Budget Review Committee, and a member of the ILAE Task Force of the Clinical Genetic Testing of the Epilepsies.

Dr Guillem de Valles Ibáñez

Dr Guillem de Valles Ibáñez (Postdoctoral Fellow)

Guillem obtained his BSc in Marine Sciences from The University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and his MSc in Developmental Biology and Genetics from the University of Barcelona. He completed his PhD in Biomedicine from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) in Barcelona in 2016. Guillem joined the Epilepsy Research Group (ERG) in 2017 as a bioinformatician, researching the genetic basis of epilepsy.

Chontelle King

Chontelle King (Senior Research Assistant)

Chontelle studied Biochemistry and Genetics at the University of Otago, and obtained her BSc(Hons) in Biochemistry. Since joining the ERG in 2016, Chontelle has held a pivotal role in the group, coordinating our many ongoing projects and studies.


Shayma Ali (PhD Student)

Shayma has a BSc in Neuroscience and a BSc(Hons) in Pharmacology from the University of Otago. She joined the ERG in 2017 as a PhD student, and is researching translational approaches to the pharmacological management of epilepsy.

Dr Gemma Poke

Dr Gemma Poke (PhD Student)

Gemma is a clinical geneticist who trained in Brisbane and Edinburgh, and has worked in Wellington since 2013. She joined the ERG in 2018 as a PhD student, researching the epidemiology and genetic causes of the epileptic encephalopathies.

Jenny Jeffrey

Jenny Jeffrey (DClinPsyc Student)

Jenny completed her BSc and MSc in Psychology at Victoria University of Wellington. Since her graduation, she has worked in a variety of research settings, both in New Zealand and the U.K. She started her DClinPsyc studies at Massey University in 2018, and is working with Professor Sadleir as one of her supervisors. Her thesis will examine how receiving a genetic diagnosis of childhood epileptic encephalopathy has an impact on family identity, functioning and psychological wellbeing.

Ngaire Keenan

Ngaire Keenan (Research Fellow and Master's Student)

Ngaire is a Paediatric Registrar who graduated with a MBChB and a BMedSc(Hons) from the University of Otago. She is an advanced trainee in Paediatrics in the Wellington Region with a plan to become a Paediatric Neurologist. Ngaire first joined the ERG when she did her BMedSc(Hons) and a subsequent Summer Studentship on epilepsy research topics. She is now returning as a co-investigator for the CBD drug trial.

Mary-Jane Smith thumbnail

Mary-Jane Smith (Research Nurse)

Mary-Jane received her BSc in Nursing from Auckland University of Technology and a PGDipNS in Paediatric Nursing from Melbourne University. She has extensive work experience as a Paediatric Nurse in both New Zealand and Australia. Mary-Jane has been with the ERG since 2018, coordinating patient care for the CBD drug trial.

Our main collaborators 

Laureate Professor Ingrid Scheffer thumbnail

Laureate Professor Ingrid Scheffer 


Laureate Professor Ingrid Scheffer is a physician scientist, paediatric neurologist, and epileptologist at the University of Melbourne and the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health. With Professor Samuel Berkovic, she co-leads the Epilepsy Research Centre at Austin Health and is Chair of Paediatric Neurology Research.

Professor Scheffer is a founding fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and currently its Vice-President. She was jointly awarded the Australian Prime Minister's Prize for Science with Professor Samuel Berkovic and the Order of Australia in 2014. She was elected to the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia in 2015. In 2018, Professor Scheffer was elected Fellow to the Royal Society of London for her exceptional contribution to science.

Professor Melanie Bahlo thumbnail

Professor Melanie Bahlo 

BSc(Hons), PhD

Professor Melanie Bahlo is a genetic bioinformatician with extensive experience in epilepsy genetics. She is based at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne where she leads the Bahlo Lab, focused on the bioinformatics of neurogenetic and infectious diseases. Professor Bahlo has collaborated with the Epilepsy Research Group at the University of Otago, Wellington and the Epilepsy Research Centre at the University of Melbourne since 2011.