Our Team


A key strength of the Cancer and Ageing Research Program is our international, multidisciplinary team.
CARP brings together world class scientists, clinicians and surgeons who are using their unique skill sets
to work towards a universal cancer treatment. Our accomplished team includes:


Associate Professor Derek Richard

Associate Professor Derek Richard

Scientific Director

Derek Richard did his under graduate degree and PhD at the University of Dundee, Scotland. He then spent 4 years as a Fellow at St Andrews University before moving to the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane. In 2011 Derek moved his research team to the Queensland University of Technology. Derek is currently an Associate Professor and Principle Research Fellow at QUT. He is Scientific Director of the Cancer and Ageing Research Program and is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow. Derek has published papers in prestigious journals including Nature, Genes and Development and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and has received over $2m in research funding since 2010.

Professor Ken OByrne

Professor Ken O’Byrne

Clinical Director

Prof Kenneth O’Byrne is a Consultant Medical Oncologist at Princess Alexandra Hospital and Queensland University of Technology, having recently arrived from St James’s Hospital (SJH) and Trinity College, Dublin. He qualified from University College, Dublin (UCD) in 1984, completed his higher professional oncology training at the Churchill Hospital, Oxford 1997 and subsequently worked at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and University of Leicester until returning to Dublin in November ’03. He has a Doctorate Degree in Medicine from UCD and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, Ireland. He was clinical director of the HOPE directorate at SJH until stepping down on 30th June 2012 after his appointment in Brisbane.

Nicholas Ashton

Nicholas completed his Bachelor of Applied Science in Biochemistry and Biotechnology at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), receiving a number of academic awards including the ‘Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Prize’ and ‘The Deans Award for Academic Excellence’. The following year Nicholas completed his Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Honours), receiving a first class grade, as well as a QUT University Medal. Currently Nicholas is enrolled as a PhD student at the Translational Research Institute as a member of the CARP team. Nicholas’s work is supported by competitive scholarships from Cancer Council Queensland and QUT.


Syed Ali Naqi

Syed Ali Naqi completed his Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Biochemistry from the University of Lahore, Pakistan, in 2011. Here, during his final year, he conducted research with the university’s prostate cancer research group. Syed’s achievements during this time allowed him to join the Mayo Hospital in 2012, later on he joined back university’s research group where he studied until joining the CARP program in 2013. Currently he is the recipient of a Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Postgraduate Research Award.


Dr Aaron Urquhart

Aaron commenced his scientific career at Griffith University in the laboratory of Dr Denis Crane, where he studied for a doctorate in the field of peroxisome biogenesis. After the completion of his doctorate Aaron was recruited by Dr Kum Kum Khanna into the DNA damage at the Queensland Berghofer Institute. As the recipient of a prestigious Peter Dougherty research fellowship, Aaron’s research was to focus on the study of the breast cancer susceptibility gene Brca2 where he initiated a number of projects in this field. In 2011 Aaron was recruited as the foundation member of the Genome Stability lab at QUT under the leadership of Dr Derek Richard. Aaron is now pleased to be a member of the CARP team at QUT.

Dr Laura Croft

Laura Croft completed her PhD at Griffith University in 2006. Her doctoral studies were focused on selenium biology and metabolism, redox regulation. Laura continued the studies on selenium biology during her post doctoral position at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research between 2006 and 2012, when she focused on selenoprotein translation. Laura joined the CARP in 2012.

Nathan Wallace

Nathan completed his Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology and Biochemistry with distinction in 2011. He then completed his honours year at QIMR in the Whitelaw lab looking at genes involved in epigenetic modifications, Nathan is currently a first year PhD student working on DNA damage and repair Mechanisms.

Sam Beard

Sam completed his B.Sc. (Hons) in Molecular Biology at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, in 2002. He worked briefly on the genetics of bacterial virulence in entomopathogens at AgResearch, NZ then moved to the UK where he spent three years at GlaxoSmithKline working in drug target validation, high-throughput screening and assay development groups. Returning to NZ in 2009, he spent three years working at the NZ Institute for Plant and Food Research working on bacterial diseases of crops. Sam joined CARP at QUT in 2013.


Dr Nicolas Paquet

After studying the evolution of plants architecture and development, Dr Nicolas Paquet, obtained his PhD from Paris XI University, France. Embracing the opportunity of a career change, Dr Paquet joined the team of Pr. Patrick Sung in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry of the Yale Medical School at the Yale University, USA. He gained extensive experience in the biochemistry of DNA repair pathways, essential for the maintenance of genome stability and for cancer avoidance. He specifically focused on the biochemistry of proteins involved in predisposing to cancer or Fanconi Anemia (such as BRCA2) but also studied proteins implicated in heritable human diseases characterized by premature aging. As part of his role at the Yale University, Dr Paquet managed a protein purification facility, providing his expertise to various laboratories, researchers and students.


Dr Desi Veleva

Desi is a research scientist at the Genome Stability Lab at the TRI. She obtained her doctorate degree from Griffith University in early 2010. Her research background is on neurogenesis of the nervous system focusing primarily on working with adult stem cells derived from the olfactory system and the brain. The main research there focused on using these stem cells for cell transplantation therapies and for diagnosis of diseases of the nervous system such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and Parkinson&squo;s disease. Dr Desi Veleva also gained interest and knowledge in the area of Cancer Research while working at the Queensland Children’s Medical Research Institute (QCMRI). Her project was focused on the investigation of various aspects of tumour propagating cell biology in relation to radiation and multi-agent chemotherapy resistance, which enabled her to develop invaluable skills in in-vivo animal experimentation, and cancer cell biology. At present, Dr Desi Veleva is a member of the Cancer and Ageing Research Program (CARP). Her current project is focused on establishing a link in the role of DNA repair proteins in radiation-resistant cancer stem cells.


Joshua Burgess

Joshua completed his Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology and Biochemistry with distinction in 2011. He then joined the CARP team undertaking a vacation research project. Following this Joshua undertook and completed his Honours year within the group, with the focus on a novel DNA repair protein. Joshua is continuing and expanding on his Honours project, currently a first year PhD student.


Dr Emma Bolderson

Emma is originally from the UK and completed her BSc (Genetics) and PhD (in the field of DNA repair) at the University of Sheffield, UK. In 2005 she moved to Brisbane to start her postdoctoral career at the QIMR Berghofer Institute. While at QIMR, Emma continued her work on DNA repair and cancer, focusing on the characterisation of DNA repair proteins including Exo1, hSSB1 and Kap-1. In 2012 Emma joined the Genome Stability group at Queensland University of Technology as a Postdoctoral Fellow and currently focuses on characterising the roles of novel proteins involved in DNA repair and ageing. Emma has published articles in journals such as Nature and Nucleic Acids Research. Emma’s research interests include elucidating mechanisms of DNA repair and ageing and the relationship between genomic stability and cancer. Emma currently receives funding support from the NHMRC and QUT.


Jacob Tickner

A lifelong interest in biology was the driving force behind Jacob's career choice. He completed a Bachelor of Science at University of Queensland majoring in biochemistry and microbiology. Jacob's interest in cancer research was due to the immense impact this disease has had on his friends, family, and society as a whole. To pursue this interest, he undertook his Honours Degree with Derek Richard at QUT IHBI researching the role of the DNA damage response and its implication in cancer, and continued with Derek and Ken O'Byrne when undertaking his PhD training at TRI as a member of the CARP team.


Dr Parisa Hesami

Parisa Hesami is a veterinarian from Iran. She completed her PhD at Institute of Health and Biomedical innovation at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in 2013. Her doctoral thesis research interests included: in vivo models for human cancers, marker discovery, biomaterials, metastases and technology development. Parisa started her position as a Research Associate within the CARP at Translational Research Institute recently. Her focus is mainly on in vivo studies for cancer therapeutics.

DR Mark Adams

Mark Adams is currently a post-doctoral researcher within the Cancer and Ageing Research Program (CARP) at the Translational Research Institute (TRI). He undertook undergraduate and honours degree studies at the Queensland University of Technology, completing these studies in 2005 and 2006 respectively. In 2012, Mark completed his PhD whilst based at the Mater Medical Research Institute, studying the molecular mechanisms of prostate cancer bone metastases. Now based at the Princess Alexandra Hospital campus with CARP at the TRI, Mark has an interest in genome instability and how this contributes to cancer and disease.