Professor Catherine Abbott


College of Science and Engineering

place Biological Sciences (333B)
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

Dr Abbott received her Ph.D from the University of Sydney in 1997 during which she cloned and sequenced the gene for the protease dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4) in the pre- human genome era. Her discovery of the protease homologues, DPP8 and DPP9 during her post-doctoral studies at the Centenary Institute, Sydney was pivotal to translating selective DPP4 inhibitors such as Sitagliptin safely from the laboratory to the clinic for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. In 2001, she moved to the School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University, where she has maintained her passion for this family working on their structure and function using DPP inhibitors and DPP substrate discovery to study the role of these proteases in diseases such as cancer, inflammation and metabolism. She is internationally recognized as an expert in the DPP field and is a member of the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer.


BSc, University of Adelaide 1986
PhD, University of Sydney 1997

Graduate Diploma in Education ( Higher Education), Flinders University 2015

Honours, awards and grants

1981 represented the N.T in the National Capital Seminar sponsored by the Queen Elizabeth Silver Jubilee Trust.

1989 awarded Queen Elizabeth Silver Jubilee Trust for Young Australians Scholarship to work in Netherlands

1990 awarded Institute of Molecular Pathology Travel Grant

1990 awarded NATO Travel Grant

1994 awarded Queen Elizabeth Silver Jubilee Trust for Young Australians Scholarship travel grant

1996 awarded Glaxo/Gastroenterological Society of Australia Travel Award

1999 awarded Pharmacia Upjohn/Gastroenterological Society of Australia Senior Travel Award

2006 awarded Australian Academy of Sciences North American Travel Award.

Key responsibilities

College of Science and Engineering HDR Coordinator 2017-2019

Deputy Chair of University Higher Degrees by Research Committee 2018-2019

Member of Unisuper Consultative Committee 2011-2019

Equal Opportunity Contact Officer 2009-2019

Research expertise
Biochemistry and cell biology
Clinical sciences
Oncology and carcinogenesis
Other agricultural and veterinary sciences
Research interests

My current research mainly focuses on a family of peptidases that are interesting due their heightened expression by activated cells, particularly T cells and hepatic stellate cells, their involvement in cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions and their roles in leukocyte chemotaxis, T cell proliferation, HIV infection and tumor growth (McCaughan et al 2000).

Dipeptidyl Peptidase IV (DPIV)/CD26 is a multifunctional protein which has three unique biological functions (1) an enzyme activity (2) binding to adenosine deaminase (ADA) and (3) T cell activation. The expression of DPIV on the lymphocyte surface is important for lymphocyte function and in the pathogenesis of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Other DPIV-like proteins, with significant sequence homology have been cloned: DP6, DP10 DP8, DP9 and fibroblast activation protein (FAP). The DP6 and DP10 proteins are expressed in the brain and are thought to be involved in signalling processes. FAP has been shown to be important in the pathogenesis of both cancer and cirrhosis of the liver. The identification of these molecules suggests the existence of a highly specialised DPIV-like gene family in which members will probably share gene structure, three-dimensional protein structure and perhaps functions.

Long term Goal of this research: The discovery of novel DPIV-like genes will lead to increased understanding of the role of this emerging family in the immune system and in disease pathogenesis. In addition, the discovery of new genes may lead to new targets and inhibitor based therapies for the treatment of such diseases as diabetes, obesity, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and Alzheimer's Disease.

Teaching interests
  • Bioinformatics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Cell Biology
  • Functional Genomics
Topic coordinator
BIOL3771 DNA to Genomics
BIOL2272 Molecular Biology
Topic lecturer
BIOL3771 DNA to Genomics
BIOL3772 Protein to Proteome
BIOL2772 Molecular Biology
Supervisory interests
Alzheimer's disease
Biochemistry of fish nutrition
Breath analysis
Cancer biology
Dipeptidyl peptidases
Marine bioprospecting
Higher degree by research supervision
Principal supervisor: dipeptidyl peptidases (2)
Associate supervisor: Anenome toxicity (1)
Principal supervisor: Dicathias Orbita Transcriptomics (1), Cancer Biology (4), dipeptidyl peptidases (6), Inflammation (3)
Expert for media contact
Molecular Biology
Cell Biology
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Molecular Biology
Available for contact via
Or contact the media team
+61 8 82012092
0427 398 713
Media expertise
  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Bioinformatics
  • Biotechnology
  • Cell Biology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
  • Molecular Biology
Further information

Current PhD supervision (3)

Primary Supervisor: Lisa Pogson, Robert Qiao; Associate Supervisor:Cassie Hoepner

PhD- 14 completions

2018: Dr Simone Jaenisch (Associate)

2015: Dr Usma Munawara

2014: Dr Babak Esmeelian

2014: Dr Dono Indarto -Sebelas Maret University, Indonesia.
2013:Dr Nurdin Samsara- Lumpung University, Indonesia.
2012: Dr Maresa Bruhn-2013 Research Assistant QEH, Adelaide
2012:Dr Patrick Laffy- 2013 Post-doc AIMS, Townsville, Australia
2012:Dr Claire Wilson- 2012 Post-Doc at Center for Cancer Biology, Adelaide. 2014-2018 NHMRC Biomedical Research Fellow,UniSA.
2010:Dr Melanie Sulda: 2010-Post-Doc, Department of Haematology, FU, 2011-Post-Doc fellowship at Uni of Texas-MDA Anderson Cancer Centre, US. 2013- Research Associate FMC
2010:Dr Rino Donato: 2010 Post-Doc, Gastroenterology, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide
2009: Dr Roger Yazbeck: 2009 -10 Post-Doc Gastroenterology, WCHl, Adelaide; 2011-2014 NHMRC Biomedical Research Fellow UniSA. CMRK Research Fellow at Flinders 2015-2019.
2009: Dr Melissa Pitman: since 2008 Post Doc at Center for Cancer Biology, Adelaide.
2008: Dr Tong Chen- 2008 -2009 research assistant Flinders University ; 2010-11 Alzheimers Association post-doc fellowship in Abbott Laboratory. 2012- Research Assistant FMC
2005: Dr Michael Sanderson-

BSc Honours (19 completions)

2002 Tong Chen,Dave Greig (Biotechnology)
2003 Yvonne Tan Hsiao Wei
2003 Mark Geier
2004 Melissa Pitman,Claire Wilson, Roger Yazbeck
2005 Melanie Sulda
2006 Alex Staudacher -
2008 Kym McNicholas- Research Assistant FMC, Adelaide
2009 Andrew Lorbeer (Biotechnology) -co-sup Karen Burke Da Silvia
2010 Tanya Blazewizc (Biotechnology) -co-sup Karen Burke Da Silvia
2010 Hayley Rumble- co sup with Dr Michael Michael
2010 (Kent) Ching-Yao Yang - co-sup with Jian Qin
2011 Lisa Pogson
2013-14 Robert Qiao

2016-17 Cassie Hoepner-co-sup Karen Burke Da Silvia

2017-18 Paul Liew, Heidi Bitzer -co-sup Roger Yazbeck, Jackson Doherty co-sup James Harris/David Stone,

Masters of Biotechnology -6 completions

2006 Dr Dono Indarto; 2009 Ruoyang Wang; 2013/2014 Kalyani Suryavanshi and Charndeep Chahal, 2017 Arphaphorn Dokphut and Nguyen Ngoc Thuan Nguyen

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