Dr Rachel Allavena

Associate Professor

School of Veterinary Science
Faculty of Science
r.allavena@uq.edu.au
+61 7 54601 826

Overview

Dr Rachel Allavena 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 a senior pathologist in the UQ School of Veterinary Science Veterinary School Diagnostic Service, where she manages the clinical and anatomic pathology divisions, and works as an ad hoc consultant for Queensland Medical Laboratory Vetnostics and Vepalabs. In her professional capacity as a specialist she has overseen 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 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 for Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientist membership examinations and the ACVP 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 Australian Society of Veterinary Pathologists and the Pathobiology chapter of ANZCVS. She has served NHMRC panels for post-graduate medical scholarships and is Editor in Chief of the International Veterinary Pathology Coalition case reports initiative to be launched in 2015.

Research Interests

  • Novel immunotherapeutic methods for the treatment of cancer in dogs
    Along with collaborators at USyd and ANU we are currently investigating new methods of stimulating the immune system in dogs suffering from a variety of cancers, with the hope of improving survival times and quality of life. To date one model has resulted in induced regressions of terminal incurable tumours in 2 pet dogs naturally suffering from cancer. Dog trial email. svsdogcancerit@uq.edu.au Dog trial phone: 0488514088 Dog trial facebook https://www.facebook.com/UQdogcancerIT
  • Morbidity and mortality in SE Queensland Koala populations
    Dr Joerg Henning and I are currently researching the major causes of death, injury and disease which are causing a dramatic decline in the SE QLD koala population using pathologic and epidemiologic approaches.
  • Pathology support for animal models
    I collaborate with a number of researchers in the areas of equine therapeutics, novel drug development, toxicology, and animal welfare to help design and assess studies in their animal models.

Research Impacts

Dr Allavena is active in Comparative and Translational medical research. She is running clinical trials on novel immunotherapeutic treatments for naturally occurring cancer in pet dogs in SE Queensland. She is currently recruiting dogs suffering from mast cell tumour (mastocytoma), soft tissue sarcoma, malignant melanoma and adenocarcinoma (mammary and apocrine anal sac). Dog trial facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UQdogcancerIT. Dogs must have a diagnosis and be referred by their current veterinary surgeon to participate in the trial. Please contact the trial researchers on:-

Dog trial email. svsdogcancerit@uq.edu.au OR r.allavena@uq.edu.au

Dr Allavena's research has been featured in the Toowoomba Chronicle, The Veterinarian magazine, UQ News, and on ABC 612 radio breakfast with Spencer Howson.

Dr Allavena is also active in animal model validation and development (both laboratory and large animal models) in many fields of translational and comparative medicine and has publications with her collaborators in high ranking international journals including; The Journal of Immunology, Journal of Virology, The American Journal of Pathology, Infection and Immunity, Molecular Therapy- Nucleic acids, Toxicologic Pathology and the Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology.

Qualifications

  • Veterinary Anatomic Pathologist
  • Graduate Certificate in Higher Education, The University of Queensland
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Comparative Medicine, Cornell University
  • Graduate Diploma in Anatomic Pathology, University of Guelph
  • Bachelor of Veterinary Science (Honours), The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Veterinary Biology, The University of Queensland

Publications

View all Publications

Supervision

  • Master Philosophy

  • Master Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision

Available Projects

  • Immunotherapy is designed to engaged the immune system in the recognition and attack of malignant cells with the goal of controlling, or even preventing the growth of the primary tumour and providing protection against metastatic disease. Currently, I am developing two novel methods of immunotherapy, an intratumoral injection for non-resectable tumours and a novel autologous vaccine in conjunction with collaborators at USYD and ANU. Preliminary data from these models indicate that they are safe and can extend patient survival, quality of life and cure a subset of animals by inducing tumour regression. Research work would involve the assessment of the safety and efficacy of these methods in pet dogs naturally suffering from a variety of cancers including mast cell tumour, melanoma, soft tissue sarcomas and osteosarcomas. This project contains aspects of oncology, immunology, pathology and epidemiology and would suit a veterinarian registrable in Queensland. Research methods employed would include liaising with clients, examining and treating animals as part of the clinical trial, analysing pathology samples such as biopsy, cytology and post mortem material, and conducting epidemiological analysis of the data. Veterinarians from overseas would be considered based on qualifications and funding opportunities. Research projects that would suit a full time PhD or MPhil student are available.

    If you are interested in this project please contact Dr Rachel Allavena at r.allavena@uq.edu.au

View all Available Projects

Publications

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • Immunotherapy is designed to engaged the immune system in the recognition and attack of malignant cells with the goal of controlling, or even preventing the growth of the primary tumour and providing protection against metastatic disease. Currently, I am developing two novel methods of immunotherapy, an intratumoral injection for non-resectable tumours and a novel autologous vaccine in conjunction with collaborators at USYD and ANU. Preliminary data from these models indicate that they are safe and can extend patient survival, quality of life and cure a subset of animals by inducing tumour regression. Research work would involve the assessment of the safety and efficacy of these methods in pet dogs naturally suffering from a variety of cancers including mast cell tumour, melanoma, soft tissue sarcomas and osteosarcomas. This project contains aspects of oncology, immunology, pathology and epidemiology and would suit a veterinarian registrable in Queensland. Research methods employed would include liaising with clients, examining and treating animals as part of the clinical trial, analysing pathology samples such as biopsy, cytology and post mortem material, and conducting epidemiological analysis of the data. Veterinarians from overseas would be considered based on qualifications and funding opportunities. Research projects that would suit a full time PhD or MPhil student are available.

    If you are interested in this project please contact Dr Rachel Allavena at r.allavena@uq.edu.au