A personal perspective on biomedical science

It was the desire to learn more about her brother’s rare condition that inspired Zoe Macourt to study biomedical science.

Zoe graduated with a Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Honours) in July and gave the valedictorian address for her cohort. She spoke on the significance of studying science and medicine, as well as her personal motivations.

Zoe’s younger brother, Max, has a severe muscular disorder known as Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). The hereditary condition affects around one in 5000 boys. In her address, Zoe discussed her desire to engage in research that could help those with DMD in the future.

Zoe at work in the lab.

Zoe at work in the lab.

"In grade 11 we had the opportunity to do an assignment on a genetic disease and I chose muscular dystrophy," Zoe said.

"The genetics were so interesting that I decided I wanted to look into it further. Right now, there is no cure and there are a lot of things that are still unknown."

Zoe Macourt, on her motivation for studying biomedical science.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy manifests in early childhood and causes severe muscle degradation. Those with the condition are often unable to walk by the age of 12.

Zoe tells her story.

Fortunately, the condition has not prevented Max from finding his own success in life. He is a national-level champion in boccia– a sport similar to bocce, developed specifically for athletes with significant physical impairments. Zoe hopes to be able to support her brother at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

Zoe and Max with their mother Liz at a boccia game.

Zoe and Max with their mother Liz at a boccia game.

The mysteries of Duchenne weren’t the only factors driving Zoe’s studies. She also had the opportunity to engage in cutting-edge research during her honours year. "My supervisor developed his own techniques for manipulating and observing the intracellular environment of skeletal muscle. It was really cool to be doing research that no one else in the world was doing."

Zoe is currently tutoring in a capstone course in biomedical science, guiding students along their own paths of inquiry in science and medicine.

This story is featured in the Summer 2017 edition of UQMedicine Magazine. View the latest edition here. Or to listen, watch, or read more stories from UQ’s Faculty of Medicine visit our content hub, MayneStream.