Lyzette Matthews


Unravelling ALS: Race against time

I'm from: Launceston
Current Location: Hobart
Position: PhD candidate, Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, University of Tasmania
Field of research/work: Neuroscience
YTS Years: 2022

Lyzette's Notable career moments

  • Almost failed physical sciences in grade 11

  • Decided I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field

  • Completed an undergraduate degree in medical research, majoring in neuroscience

  • Had a great supervisor during my honours year

  • Fell in love with research, started a PhD in neuroscience

About Lyzette Matthews

Have you ever thought about how you move? Or how your cells work together to help you lift your arms or walk? From a young age, I was always fascinated with how our brain communicates with the rest of our body to help us do such things. Throughout the years, I grew more and more interested in the structure and function of the human body, in particular the brain and the spinal cord, but I wanted to know more! This curiosity led me to university, where I studied medical research, and from there, I knew that I wanted to become a neuroscientist!
My research focuses on motor neuron disease, more specifically, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) – try saying that five times fast! This disease stops the communication to our muscles, so that we can no longer speak, move, or even breathe. This happens because special cells (called motor neurons), found in our brain and spinal cord become sick, but we don’t know why this happens! My job is to find out if other cells in the spinal cord (called interneurons) can cause these motor neurons to become sick. In the lab, I grow interneurons in a dish so I can take images and measure their activity using two very big and different microscopes. This lets me see whether they change in ALS, in the hopes that one day we might be able to find a cure or treatment for people living with this disease.
I love being a neuroscientist, and I love going to work and learning every single day. But, when I’m not at work, I like to read, paint, play piano, and spend time with family and friends.