Dr Dannielle Upton
Conjoint Lecturer

Dr Dannielle Upton

  • Bachelor of Science (Biomedical) 2008-2010, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia
  • Honours 2011, University of Technology and Kolling Institute for Medical Research, Sydney, Australia
  • PhD (Sydney Medical School) 2013-2016, University of Sydney and ANZAC Research Institute, Sydney Australia
Medicine & Health
School of Clinical Medicine

Dr Dannielle Upton is an early career research scientist. She is a cancer biologist with a research focus on paediatric brain tumours, working primarily on DIPG. She is a full time Senior Post-doctoral researcher at the Children’s Cancer Institute (CCI) and a conjoint lecturer at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Dannielle completed a Biomedical Science degree with Honours through the University of Technology Sydney in 2011. Her honours research project was undertaken at the Kolling Institute for Medical Research, in the Perinatal Research Laboratory, and focused on determining the role of Thromboxane receptor beta in preeclampsia. Following this she took on a research assistant position in 2012 at the ANZAC Research Institute in the Andrology Research Laboratory. She subsequently completed a PhD in the same laboratory, focused on examining the role of Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) in ovarian reproductive health, function and aging. In 2016, during the last year of her PhD, she was selected as 1 of 20 students to attend the highly competitive and prestigious Frontiers in Reproductive Biology Program.

Once completing her PhD, she commenced a graduate research assistant position at the Brain and Mind Centre (BMC). Here she was responsible for the planning and execution of an ARC funded research project examining the effect of anaesthesia on brain biochemistry. She then commenced her first postdoctoral research position in 2018 at the Children’s Cancer Institute with the Brain Tumour Research Program. Her current project involves undertaking a variety of cellular, molecular biology and in vivo experiments to develop and improve treatments for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Gliomas (DIPG). Her research focuses on understanding the cytotoxic effects of drugs identified from HTS and their effectiveness in patient derived animal models of DIPGs. She is also focusing on the development of novel therapeutic strategies such as combinations with irradiation and other chemotherapeutic agents with a particular emphasis on the translation of laboratory findings to clinical trials. She is also currently leading a Mark Hughes Foundation, DIPG collaborative and Accendatech funded project on a novel compound ACT001 and evaluating its efficacy in treating DIPG as a single agent and in combination. She is also leading a project investigating the repurposing of Auranofin as an anti-DIPG therapeutic funded through the Kid’s Cancer Project. She is also developing single cell RNA sequencing for analysis of DIPG samples and has a lead role in “Levi’s Project” which is examining the use of sequential therapies in the treatment of DIPG.

Children's Cancer Institute at the Lowy Cancer Research Centre

Current Funding

  • 2019-2022: Mark Hughes Foundation Innovation Grant: Upton D (CIA) Developing new treatments for childhood brain cancer.
  • 2022-2023: The DIPG Collaborative: Upton D (CIA) Developing Novel Combination Therapies for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma
  • 2022-2024: The Kids Cancer Project: Upton D, Ziegler D (Co-CI) Targeting the thioredoxin system as a novel strategy for DIPG
  • 2022-2023: Children's Cancer Insitute: Upton D, Moles E (Co-CI) Targeting diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma using nanotechnology
  • 2022-2023: University of New South Wales (UNSW) Medicine - E/MCR Cancer Research Seed Grant Scheme: Elucidating the oncogenic role of telomere dysfunction in drug resistant ER+ breast cancer

Translational Research Partnership 

  • 2022-2024: Accendatech AU Pty Ltd: Upton D, Ziegler D (Co-CI) Developing novel ACT001 combination therapies for DIPG

Research Infrastructure Support

  • 2021: UNSW Research Infrastructure Support Grant: Exploring and targeting the brain with state-of-the-art equipment

Dr Dannielle Upton was awarded a University Postgraduate award scholarship during her PhD studies.

She has been awarded travel scholarships including:

  • the International Mammalian Genome Society Student Travel Scholarship (2015)
  • Concord Repatriation General Hospital Travel Award (2015)
  • Society for Reproductive Biology Travel Scholarship (2014, 2015)
  • Endocrine Society Australia Travel Scholarship (2015)

She was also awarded the Frontiers in Reproductive Biology Scholarship (2016), James Kentley Memorial Scholarship (2016) and Royston George Brooker Scholarship (2016) to attend the Frontiers in Reproductive Biology Course.

During her research career she was been awarded presentation awards such as:

  • ANZCHOG best abstract - Junior Investigator - Basic and Translational Science (2022)
  • Kid's Cancer Alliance (KCA) - Early Career Researcher Oral Presentation Finalist and Prize winner (2021)
  • Kids Cancer Alliance (KCA) - Early Career Researcher Oral Presentation Finalist (2020)
  • Cancer-Lifespan Research symposium – Best Postgraduate Presentation Award (2015)
  • Endocrine Society Australia Annual meeting – ESA Novartis Junior Scientist Award Finalist (2015)
  • Society of Reproductive Biology Annual meeting – Oozoa Award Finalist (2015)
  • Women’s Health and Maternal Medicine Conference - Best Undergraduate Presentation Award (2011).


Dr Dannielle Upton currently holds the "Levi Wheeler Early Career Researcher Fellowship" 2022-2026

  1. High Throughput screening approaches to find new treatments for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Gliomas

  2. Utilizing single cell RNA sequencing to examine Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Gliomas and the blood brain barrier

  3. Levi's Project: A future for kids with DIPG

  4. Preclinical development of novel compound ACT001 for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma

  5. Targeting the thioredoxin system as a novel strategy for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma

  6. Targeting diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma using nanotechnology

My Research Supervision

Honours students


Student: Katerina Misevska

Project: Developing Novel Combination Therapies for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG)

Supervisor: David Ziegler, Co-supervisor: Dannielle Upton



Student: Arcadia Sivanathan

Project: Exploring therapeutic options for Diffuse Midline Glioma (DMG).

Supervisor: Dannielle Upton, Co-supervisors: David Ziegler, Holly Holliday


PhD students

2019 - 2023

Student: Caitlin Ung

Project: New therapeutic strategies for DIPG – understanding the role of the super BBB in the brainstem and ways to overcome it.

Supervisors: David Ziegler, Maria Tsoli, Orazio Vittorio, Dannielle Upton