Meet Dr Michelle Lorentzos

07 March 2022
International Women's Day

Dr Michelle Lorentzos is a paediatric neurologist, meaning she looks after children who have conditions affecting their brain, nerves or muscles. She has a particular interest in finding treatments for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a progressive and life-limiting neuromuscular disease affecting boys in childhood.  

She also works in the very exciting area of clinical trials and has recently been appointed Clinical Trials Lead at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. This leadership role builds upon the incredible work in clinical trials already being done in the Network, by facilitating advocacy, strategic support and development in this crucial area of research.  

"I am always happiest when I have a sense of purpose, and the purpose that stems from this role - working within a team to find better treatments for children affected by disease and disability - is important, challenging and rewarding. It also brings with it the privilege of working with brilliant people who also share this sense of purpose."  

Dr Lorentzos has been interested in a career in paediatrics since her own childhood and is inspired by the always evolving and developing medical landscape.

"I love that I am always learning. I love that children, with all their individuality and fresh perspective, are part and centre of my everyday work and aspirations." 

Speaking on this year's campaign theme #BreakTheBias, she says, "In our line of work the ambition is bold. We want all children to have access to treatments so that they can live happy and healthy lives. To this end, we can’t afford not to welcome every brilliant and bold mind to the table to help us achieve this and I firmly that believe that many of those brilliant and bold minds happen to belong to women".

"If we don’t break the bias and we don’t make it easier for women to come to the table and contribute with their ideas and abilities, I think WE miss out. Ultimately that means the children we want to help miss out."  

Considering now in 2022, women remain the primary carers of the majority of children, she questions, "How can any organisation that aims to address the health and vulnerabilities of children, not strive to incorporate the lived experiences and perspectives of the people who care for them?"

Adding to this she says, "Half of the children whose health we are safeguarding and promoting are girls. At their worst, the effects of gender inequality, such as domestic violence, can be life-threatening. Other effects, such as wage inequality and workplace discrimination, jeopardise health and wellbeing. Our approach to gender bias promotes our expectations for the future of these girls".

"I don’t just want to tell girls that they are equal, valued and absolutely deserving of safety and respect; I want to show them."  

To achieve this she continues to learn and grow in this space and continues to take notes from women who have excelled in medicine and research before her.  

"I think the best way for me to break the bias is to outperform expectations in my role. I want my impact and influence to contribute to the evidence that breaks the bias when it comes to women in science, medicine and leadership."  

She says "I believe bias and discrimination come from a lack of understanding and imbalances of power, and I aim to correct those, when I can. I aim to foster greater interpersonal connections, recognise achievement and to call out any behaviour that diminishes the value or contribution of any individual, regardless of gender or age".  

Dr Lorentzos admires and learns from many women professionally, but says her greatest role model is her mother, who she says is the most emotionally intelligent person she has ever met. 

"As a paediatric doctor knowledge is so important, but so is understanding the person in front of you. In that regard, I think I was trained by a world champion."    

When asked what her advice would be to other women, she says, "There is already too much advice directed to women, often unsolicited and reductive. I am trying to advise less and listen more!"

"But if I was to go back in time and advise my younger self, and if my younger self was not tired of receiving unsolicited advice, I would say, “Be authentic. Be passionate. Be curious. Value kindness. Enjoy!”  

Read more about some of the other inspiring women across Kids Research in celebration of International Women’s Day.

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