It is mid-afternoon, and PhD student Savant Thakur is watching as his research assistant carries out an experiment Mr Thakur designed to investigate the effect muscular dystrophy has on living tissue.
The disorder progressively wastes the body's muscle tissue, and its most serious form, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, affects about one in 3500 boys. Anyone with the condition is lucky to make it to the age of 30.
The Melbourne University student knows about it all too well; he has been living with it for most of his life and his own muscles prevent him from carrying out the practical work himself.
He was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy at age four, but even before then he knew something was wrong with his body.
"I used to fall frequently. I'd see all the other kids running around and I could not do most of the activities they were doing, like climbing stairs or fighting with each other," Mr Savant said. "I just wondered why I couldn't do that as well."
By age 10 he was confined to a wheelchair, and he now needs a ventilator to help him breathe.
His childhood was taken up with endless trips to the Royal Children's Hospital, but during high school a need to understand his condition opened up into an insatiable curiosity about the science underpinning the body.
"I wanted to learn more about the causes of my condition and I was really intrigued by what was going wrong in my body at a molecular level," he said.
The 24-year-old said he would use the hospital visits as a chance to talk about the science of muscular dystrophy with his doctors.
"I got really inspired. That's why I decided biomedical research would be the best way to go."
His goal is to develop treatments that would improve the quality of life of those worldwide with muscular dystrophy. He knows it is a long shot, but he hopes any fruits of his research could benefit him too.
It hasn't been easy. When he was studying VCE, he had to dictate his English essays to an assistant, and he did a lot of the working-out for his maths subjects in his head.
Despite these hurdles, he achieved an ATAR score that put him squarely in the top 5 per cent of the state and he pursued a biosciences degree at Melbourne.
His undergraduate studies were interrupted by a bout of pneumonia that kept him out of the laboratory for four months, but his goal is to finish his PhD in three years and become a fully fledged researcher at the university.
The condition means his muscles will slowly degenerate. There are better treatments now than there were 10 years ago, but he acknowledges that progress has been slow and a cure seems a long way off.
"I must do something to contribute," he said.