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Esther Tantsis, PhD, MBBS, BMedSci - Multiple sclerosis and related CNS demyelinating disorders

I am currently a neurology fellow working part-time. I have almost completed my neurology training. Having just completed my PhD I am now furthering my interest in demyelinating disorders of the optic nerve and the relevance of MOG antibodies. I don’t have a formal academic title but I do teach on a weekly basis and enjoy it immensely.

Interview with Russell Dale (RD)

RD:You have just got your PhD. Yeh!!! Super congratulations. I am very proud of you. Tell us about your PhD journey!
ET:Well just to keep things interesting in 2008 I was pregnant, started my advanced training in Paediatric neurology and also started my research initially as an MPhil (and later converted to a PhD). This was tricky with two pregnant pauses and working part-time and it was kind of like have 3-part-time jobs - and each job was a tad difficult to constrain to its 15 hour limit. I did my research mostly part-time apart from 18months of full-time research leading up to submission. Overall it was a satisfying and rewarding journey. I learnt so much about my topic, neurology in general, research, stats (which I never liked before), paper writing and most importantly – how to get lots of work done in small pockets of time!
RD:What is the main skill you have learnt in your PhD?
ET:I think being well-read on your topic is really important – this does come with time but knowing my topic well and the literature well, made what I was doing more purposeful and enjoyable. It also made writing up a lot easier. I think my stats skill have definitely improved 100 fold. I feel confident in what I do – although there are times that my computer and I were definitely NOT friends.
RD:How will you continue a research activity in your future clinical role? Share with us the difficulties and challenges you foresee.
ET:I have a few unanswered questions in my area of interest and related to my field of interest. I will be doing a couple of follow on projects as well. Most importantly however I would like a new challenge but I’m undecided as to the topic! Post-doc…. Hmmm….
RD:What is the hardest thing about doing a PhD?
ET:Balance. If there are more than many things pulling your attention ie family, work, research – it becomes tricky to maintain that balance. Part of the problem is of course funding - it would be nice to see better funding and support towards research. Thankfully I had a very supportive department and supervisor and managed to find some balance in the chaos.
RD:Your family live on a farm. Tell us about it…
ET:I grew on a poultry and peach orchard farm on the central coast and my parents still live there. It was lots of fun growing up being able to build tree houses, te-pees, have peach fights with foam boxes (soft rotting peaches mind you), swimming in the dam, driving tractors and pretend to go bush walking/rock climbing like the Layland brothers (don’t ask). I still love going back there for the tranquility it brings and there’s nothing quite like a starring night then when you sit below an open sky with no obscuration from city lights!!!


Australia and New Zealand Child Neurology Society, ABN 12 146 982 452, ACN 146 982 452