Researcher biography

Associate Professor Rachel Allavena is a multidisciplinary researcher with a major interest in research and teaching pathology, toxicology and laboratory animal science. She is well recognised for her research contributions in cancer treatment using pet dogs with natural cancer to develop new immunotherapies, and the conservation of Queensland's koala population. She is a board certified veterinary anatomic pathologist with the American College of Veterinary Pathologists (ACVP) and a registered specialist veterinary anatomic pathologist with the Veterinary Surgeon's board of Queensland through the Australian Veterinary Boards Council. She is the lead diagnostic anatomic pathologist in the UQ School of Veterinary Science Veterinary Laboratory Service, and in her professional capacity she oversees cases for Racing Queensland, Queensland Police and RSPCA Queensland.

Dr Allavena has a PhD in Comparative Medicine from Cornell Univesity in New York. She has worked in drug safety research and development in the pharmaceutical industry in preclinical safety testing and discovery research. Her research interests are strongly focused on comparative and translational medicine and animal model validation and development in rodents and dogs. Her major research projects include developing novel cancer immunotherapics and diagnostics for pet dogs naturally suffering from cancer both as a veterinary therapy and comparative model for human cancer. She is co-Principal Investigator in a project investigating the causes of koala morbidity and mortality which are driving the decline of koala populations in SEQLD. She has wide ranging research collaborations specialising in the pathological assessment and study design for animal models in a variety of areas including novel therapeutics, drug safety, toxicology and natural envenomations, biometallic implants, and animal welfare in laboratory animals and domestic species.

Dr Allavena has a major interest in graduate student and pathology trainee mentorship. She currently supervises RHD students and pathology trainees preparing the American College of Veterinary Pathologists board examination. She teaches into the undergraduate BSc, BVSc, and BVetTech courses for pathology, laboratory animal science and toxicology. She was awarded a Faculty of Science Teaching Excellence Award in 2015. She is the National Secretary for the Pathobiology chapter of ANZCVS, and was national secretarty for the Australian Society of Veterinary Pathologists from 2014-2016. She has served NHMRC panels for post-graduate medical scholarships and is an Australian representative on the International Veterinary Pathology Coalition.

A/Prof Allavena has an active media profile and has been featured in national and international media including The Conversation, ABC national and regional radio and TV news, Toowoomba Chronicle, The Veterinarian magazine, and UQ News.