Dr Rochelle D'Souza

Targeting proteins in brain cancer research

Rochelle is a researcher at the Translational Brain Cancer Laboratory at QIMR Berghofer in Brisbane.

She specialises in glioblastoma - the most common and aggressive primary brain cancer, which currently results in approximately 1,400 deaths a year in Australia.

Despite thirty years of research, there has been no meaningful change in the average survival rate of patients over this period.

The research

Rochelle is determined to develop better treatments and boost survival rates.

With her Cure Cancer Australia grant, Rochelle and her colleagues are examining a protein known as ephrinA5, which binds to its target protein Eph3.

Eph3 is elevated in glioblastoma and other cancers. Rochelle believes that this protein, as well as its ‘signalling route’ is an attractive target for research.

“I’m investigating what signals are activated by ephrinA5 and looking to identify novel, druggable targets that could better treat this disease,” she says.

“We have innovative and powerful technology to profile thousands of proteins in one shot. Its application to study glioblastoma signalling therefore holds a lot of promise.”

Funding challenges

Rochelle is frustrated about the funding challenges facing young scientists.

“We’ve probably missed out on countless discoveries because a precious trained and motivated workforce was forced to say goodbye to science for lack of financial support,” she says.

As a result, she’s “extremely thankful” for her grant and the fundraisers behind it.

“Little drops of water make a mighty ocean. Every dollar raised counts and supports scientists who are at the frontier of identifying new, innovative treatments,” she says.

“We’ve greatly increased our understanding of how cancer develops and it’s just a matter of time until we can win the battle against it.”

Rochelle, originally from India, loves living in Brisbane with husband Navin. Outside of work she enjoys Queensland’s beaches, travelling and learning new languages.


Rochelle is funded by Cure Cancer Australia through the Cancer Australia Priority-driven Cancer Support Scheme. Her grant is solely supported by The Can Too Foundation.