Associate Professor Barbara Rolfe

Principal Research Fellow and GL

Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology
+61 7 334 63856


A/Prof Barbara Rolfe is a Group Leader at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology. A/Prof Rolfe is an immunologist and cell biologist, whose major research interests are the role of the innate immune system in cancer, the identification of novel therapeutic strategies for cancer, and nanomaterial safety. Her research has led to the identification of a previously unknown mechanism by which dysregulation of the immune system contributes to cancer development and growth, and provided information regarding the immune response to nanomaterials and the influence of physicochemical characteristics on biodistribution and cellular uptake. A/Prof Rolfe has used mouse models and small peptide agonists and antagonists to investigate the role of the innate immune system in tumour development and growth. This research demonstrated for the first time an important role for complement proteins in promoting tumour growth via regulation of immunosuppressive innate immune cells. Ongoing research is aimed focussed on gaining a better understanding of the role of complement proteins in tumour growth, developing novel immunotherapeutic strategies for cancer and investigating the application of nanomaterials for targeted delivery of anti-cancer drugs.

Research Interests

  • The role of the innate immune system in cancer
  • Nanotechnology for drug delivery


  • PhD, The University of Queensland
  • BSc, The University of Queensland


  • Ortiz-Espinosa, Sergio, Morales, Xabier, Senent, Yaiza, Alignani, Diego, Tavira, Beatriz, Macaya, Irati, Ruiz, Borja, Moreno, Haritz, Remírez, Ana, Sainz, Cristina, Rodriguez-Pena, Alejandro, Oyarbide, Alvaro, Ariz, Mikel, Andueza, Maria P., Valencia, Karmele, Teijeira, Alvaro, Hoehlig, Kai, Vater, Axel, Rolfe, Barbara, Woodruff, Trent M., Lopez-Picazo, Jose Maria, Vicent, Silvestre, Kochan, Grazyna, Escors, David, Gil-Bazo, Ignacio, Perez-Gracia, Jose Luis, Montuenga, Luis M., Lambris, John D., Ortiz de Solorzano, Carlos ... Pio, Ruben (2022). Complement C5a induces the formation of neutrophil extracellular traps by myeloid-derived suppressor cells to promote metastasis. Cancer Letters, 529, 70-84. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2021.12.027

  • Rolfe, Barbara, Sonderegger, Stefan, McGirr, Crystal and Woodruff, Trent (2022). Immunoregulatory role for complement receptors in murine breast cancer. 28th Virtual International Complement Workshop (ICW) of the International-Complement-Society (ICS), Virtual, 6-10 December 2021. Oxford, United Kingdom: Elsevier.

  • Gorman, Declan M., Li, Xaria X., Lee, John D., Fung, Jenny N., Cui, Cedric S., Lee, Han Siean, Rolfe, Barbara E., Woodruff, Trent M. and Clark, Richard J. (2021). Development of Potent and Selective Agonists for Complement C5a Receptor 1 with In Vivo Activity. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 64 (22) acs.jmedchem.1c01174, 16598-16608. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.1c01174

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Available Projects

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Book Chapter

  • Gu, Z., Rolfe, Barbara E., Thomas, A. C., Campbell, Julie H., Lu, G. Q. Max and Xu, Z. P. (2012). Heparin-related nanomaterials. Heparin, properties, uses and side effects. (pp. 159-178) edited by David E. Piyathilake and Rhong Liang. New York, United States: Nova Science.

  • Rolfe, Barbara, Mooney, Jane, Zhang, Bing, Jahnke, Sani, Le, Sarah-Jane, Chau, Yu-Qian, Huang, Qiping, Wang, Hao, Campbell, Gordon and Campbell, Julie (2011). The fibrotic response to implanted biomaterials: Implications for tissue engineering. Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering: Cells and Biomaterials. (pp. 551-568) edited by Daniel Eberli. Rijeka, Croatia: InTech Publishing.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

Completed 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.