Profile – Michelle Lai

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PhD Student University of Sydney


Michelle Lai

Job Title:

Research officer and PhD student

Place of work / study:

University of Sydney

Area of research:

Young-onset dementia

How is your work currently funded:

University of Sydney

Tell us a little about yourself:            

Whilst studying undergraduate psychology, I started out as a part-time research assistant at the University for a fantastic primary healthcare research centre called the Family Medicine Research Centre. Sadly, the 18 year old centre is now closed due to a lack of funding and it made me acutely aware how research is often propped up by short term funding and that for the limited time we have to research, often very vulnerable people, that I will try my best to produce meaningful research with meaningful outcomes. Through my work as a research officer I’ve been fortunate to work across many areas such as primary healthcare, cancer, hospital-acquired complications, aged care, and dementia. I feel truly lucky to have worked with fantastic colleagues over the years who I look up to; many of whom are mothers who must juggle children and family life along with their research career.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself:           

I grew up watching British comedies. For some reason my parents never let me watch Disney movies but they let me watch shows like Black Books, The Office, The Mighty Boosh, Mitchell and Webb, Would I Lie to You?, and of course Monty Python. I’m praying for the day Bob Mortimer comes to Australia to do some stand up shows. I was lucky enough to catch Bill Bailey a few years ago in Sydney.

Why did you choose to work in dementia?

After my grandfather was diagnosed with dementia the topic of the future was taboo and it made me think really hard about how people from cultures such as my own deal with this issue. Obviously, my PhD research has now moved to a different population (young-onset dementia) but that was the seed that was planted.

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