Anna Nowak

Professor, MB BS W.Aust., MLdship Deakin., PhD W.Aust., FRACP., GAICD

  • The University of Western Australia (M460), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from PlumX

Personal profile


Prof Anna Nowak is Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) at UWA, working with the UWA Executive to deliver research strategy and outcomes across the University. Previous roles include Pro Vice Chancellor (Health and Medical Research), Deputy Executive Dean (Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences) and Associate Dean (Research).

She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, the Oxford Women's Leadership Development Program (Oxford Said Business School), and the Australian Institute of Management Consultant Development Program. In 2022 she completed a Master of Leadership from Deakin University.

She spent 17 years as a Clinical Academic in the UWA Medical School and was also Director of the National Research Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD) from 2017-2022. Her medical speciality is Medical Oncology, and she was a practicing medical oncologist at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital from 2005 to 2021. She is a member of the Board of Directors, Cancer Council WA. 

Prof Nowak has participated actively in mesothelioma research over the past 20 years, and has received international recognition in this area, including the 2020 Wagner Medal from the International Mesothelioma Interest Group. She is a member of the Board of the International Mesothelioma Interest Group and is currently President-Elect. She continues to complete work with other researchers in this field at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, UWA and internationally, although she relinquished clinical practice in mesothelioma at the end of 2021.

Her pre-clinical laboratory work in mesothelioma includes a PhD thesis on combination chemo-immunotherapy in a murine model; this work was awarded at local, national, and international level, winning the International Mesothelioma Interest Group New Investigator Award in 2002. She returned to UWA in 2005 to pursue laboratory work and clinical translational work in mesothelioma after a postdoctoral fellowship working in clinical trials research. She has given numerous oral presentations and published abstracts of her work at national and international meetings.

Her clinical research on unidimensional measurement of response in mesothelioma culminated in the development of the Modified RECIST Criteria for tumour response which have been widely accepted for use in clinical trials in this disease and updated in 2018. She is a regular invited speaker internationally on tumour measurement and clinical trials in mesothelioma. She also performed the first published validation of the use of a quality of life tool in clinical trials in mesothelioma. More recently, she has continued to investigate the role of PET scanning in prognostication and monitoring of treatment response in mesothelioma, and has been principal investigator of a number of local and national clinical trials in mesothelioma, particularly chemo-immunotherapy. She remains the principal investigator of the international DREAM3R clinical trial of chemo-immunotherapy vs. chemotherapy in mesothelioma.

Her other research and clinical focus was neuro-oncology. She had a longstanding research interest in brain tumour psycho-oncology and clinical trials and continues to complete existing collaborative work. She was a member of the COGNO scientific advisory committee since the inception of this co-operative clinical trials group, and was Chair of COGNO betwen 2017 and 2020. She was also active in brain tumour biobanking and collaborated with translational scientists in this field. She ceased practicing clinically in neuro-oncology in 2020.

Roles and responsibilities

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) 2022 -


Funding overview

  • 2019
  1. Blancafort P, Nowak AK, Endersby R, McDonald K, Davis M, Killugudi SI.  Epigenetic engineering of DNA Damage Repair pathways to enhance synthetic lethal responses to chemotherapy and radiotherapy in brain cancer and brain-metastatic breast cancer. Brain and Breast Cancer Research Collaborative Initiative 2019 (National Breast Cancer Foundation and Cure Brain Cancer Foundation). 2019: $189,812; 2020: $300,509; 2021: $241,676; 2022: $267,382. Total $999,379
  2. Phillip J, Application ID: APP1174028. MRFF - Research Grants. The Enhance care study: multi-site implementation of early palliative care in routine practice to improve health outcomes and reduce hospital admissions for people with advanced cancer. Outcome: successful
  3. Improving glioblastoma response to chemoradiation therapy. Scott A, Nowak AK, Francis R, Gan H, Khasraw M. Cure Brain Cancer Foundation. $200,000. 2019-20
  4. Personalised targeted therapy for adolescent and young adult medulloblastoma patients. Ziegler D, Hau P, Nowak AK, Pfister S, Anazodo A, Koh E-S, Hovey E. The Australian Young Cancer Patient Clinical Trials Initiative Grant Proposal. $964,883. 2019-2023.
  • 2018
  1. Fisher S, Lake RA, Morahan G, Ram R, Nowak AK, Lesterhuis J, Bueno R. The MexTAg Collaborative Cross: Understanding Genetic Modifiers in Mesothelioma. USA Department of Defense. 2018-19. $500,375.
  2. Fisher S, Lake RA, Nowak AK. The MexTAg Collaborative Cross. iCARE Dust Diseases Board. $246,884. 2018-19
  3. McDonnell A, Nowak AK, Lake RA, Robinson B, Cook A. Identifying immune biomarkers of response to chemotherapy in malignant mesothelioma. iCARE Dust Diseases Board. $232,926. 2018-19
  4. Robinson BWS, Nowak AK, Millward MJ, Creaney J, Holt R, Watson M, Wadell N, Chee J, Newell EW. The impact of therapy on T-cell recognition of mutated tumour neo-antigens. APP1146909. $1,111,129. 20 2018-2021.
  5. Robinson BWS, Saunders C, Brown M, Fear V, Waithman J, Chee J. (Nowak A, AI)  The relationship between cancer surgery, lymph nodes, T cells and immunotherapy. APP1144209 $960, 585 2018-2020. NHMRC project grant.
  6. Nowak AK,  Fisher S, McIntyre C, Lake RA, Newton R. Mesothelioma and exercise
    Slater and Gordon (Health Projects and Research Fund); $19,564.00 2018
  • 2017
  1. Alistair Forrest, Peter Leedman, Ryan Lister, Timo Lassmann, Christobel Saunders, Camile Farah, Bruce Robinson, Anna Nowak, Ursula Kees, Terrance Johns, Ruth Ganss, Wendy Erber, Mel Ziman, Richard Lake, Michael Millward, Benhur Amanuel. Centre for Advanced Cancer Genomics. $1,750,000. Australian Cancer Research Foundation equipment grant. 2017
  2. Langbecker D, Halkett G, Nowak A, Blackler R. Caring for the carer: development and pilot testing of an online intervention to improve carer preparedness to provide care for family carers of primary brain tumour patients. Sam Ryan Memorial Award. $9,978.28. 2017
  3. Robinson BWS, Lee YCG, Creaney J, Lake RA, Holt R, Nowak AK, Watson M, Pearson, Chee J. Compartmental analysis of T-cell responses in thoracic malignancies. NHMRC project grant 2017-19. $851,402.
  4. Lee YCG, Creaney J, Nowak AK, Millward M, Pavlakis N, John T, O’Byrne K, Chen F, Francis R. App1121215_FGF-Receptor Antagonist in Mesothelioma (FRAME) Study: A Phase II Clinical Trial. $398,222.00; 2017-19
  5. Hovey E, Nowak AK, Simes J, McDonald K, Drummond K, Buckland M, Koh E-S, Cher L. APP1130584 Phase III intergroup study of radiotherapy with concomitant and adjuvant Temozolomide versus radiotherapy with adjuvant PCV chemotherapy in patients with 1p/19q co-deleted anaplastic glioma or low grade glioma: the CODEL trial. Cancer Australia Project Grant, $408,074.52; 2017-19.
  • 2016
  1. Halkett GKB, Nowak AK, Lobb E, Phillips J, Hudson P, Moorin R, Shaw T, Miller L, Bulsara M. Confidence to Care: a multistate randomised controlled trial of structured nurse-led home-based support and education for carers of people with high grade glioma. Cancer Australia Project Grant, $597,436 2016-18.
  2. Agar M, Vardy J, Koh E-S, Simes J, Nowak AK, Wheeler H, Barnes E, Hovey E. Phase II randomised placebo-controlled, double blind, multisite study of acetazolamide versus placebo for management of cerebral oedema in recurrent and/or progressive HGG requiring treatment with dexamethasone – The ACED trial. Cancer Australia Project Grant. $545,113 2016-18
  3. Mileshkin L, Yoong J, Nowak AK, Stockler M, Philip J, Le, Agar M, Phillips J, Goodall, Schofield P. The PEARL trial: Palliative care Early in Advanced Lung cancers. Cancer Australia Project Grant. $598098 2016-18.
  4. Nowak AK, Lake RA, Robinson BWS, Lesterhuis WJ, Waithman J, Cook AM, McDonnell A. The abscopal effect of radiotherapy in the context of checkpoint blockade in a mouse model of thoracic cancer. Cancer Council Western Australia project grant. $97,103. 2016
  5. Robinson BWS, Creaney J, Lake R, Nowak AK, Musk AW, Lesterhuis W, Lee YCG, Francis R, Holt R, Waddell N. National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases. NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence $2,495,164 2016-2020
  6. Lesterhuis WJ, Lake RA, Bosco A, Dudley J, Nowak AK.  Resetting the tipping point: Converting immune checkpoint non-responders into responders. NHMRC Project grant. $455,134 2016-18
  • 2015
  1. Robinson C, Nowak AK, Francis R, Lesterhuis WJ, Lake RA. Exploring the role of hypoxia modulation in treatment response to murine models of malignant mesothelioma. Cancer Council WA Project Grant. 2015 $39,626
  2. Nowak AK, Rosenthal M, Simes J, Ryan G, Drummond K. Phase III trial of Concurrent & Adjuvant Temozolomide chemotherapy in non-1p/19q deleted anaplastic glioma - the CATNON intergroup trial. Cancer Australia Project Grant. 2015-17 $190,213 (University of Sydney)
  • 2014
  1. Nowak AK, Cormie P, Halkett G, Knuckey N. Safety and efficacy of exercise during adjuvant treatment of high grade glioma $39,626. 2014-15. Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital Research Advisory Committee Grant.
  2. Creaney J, Skates S, Robinson B, Nowak A, Musk AW. Can biomarkers improve outcomes for the asbestos-induced cancer malignant mesothelioma? $769,087. 2014-6. National Health and Medical Research Council.
  3. Lake RA, Lesterhuis WJ, Khong A, Nowak A, Robinson BWS. Cancer chemoimmunotherapy: exploiting the immunogenic momentum of cytotoxic chemotherapy. $886,226. 2014-6. National Health and Medical Research Council.
  4. Nowak AK, Francis R, Lee G, Bydder S, Creaney J. Radiotherapy and hypoxia in pleural mesothelioma. $99,679 2014. Cancer Council Western Australia
  5. Francis R, Nowak AK, McDonald K, Bailey D. Defining treatment response and recurrent: novel imaging modalities for glioblastoma. $186,000, 2014-15. Cancer Council Western Australia.

• 2013
1. Morton R, King M, Fogarty G, Nowak AK. The cost-effectiveness of adjuvant whole brain radiotherapy for melanoma brain metastases: a trial-based and modelled economic evaluation. $184,475 2013-15. Cancer Australia
2. Halkett G, Nowak AK, Lobb E, Agar M, Miller L, Moorin R, Shaw T. Confidence to Care: A structured home-based support and education program for carers of people with high grade glioma. $99,315 2013. Cancer Council Western Australia.
3. Platell C, McCoy M, Zeps N, Nowak AK, Hemming C, Bulsara M. Predicting response to neo-adjuvant chemo-radiotherapy in patients with resectable rectal cancer. $196,824 2013-14. Cancer Council Western Australia.
4. Nowak AK. Analysis of regulatory T cell function in advanced cancer patients following a combination therapy of low-dose cyclophosphamide and standard care chemotherapy. $49309.60 2013-14. SCGH Research Advisory Committee Grant.
5. Francis R, Nowak AK. Imaging and modulating hypoxia in a murine model of malignant mesothelioma. $49,630.00 2013-14. SCGH Research Advisory Committee Grant.

• 2012
1. Miller L, Nowak AK. Confidence to Care: Development and piloting of a structured home-based support and education program for carers of people with high grade glioma. SCGH Research Fund. 2012/13 $45,299.60
2. Corica T, Nowak AK, Joseph DJ, Saunders C, Bulsara M. Patient preferences for adjuvant radiotherapy in early breast cancer Cancer and Palliative Care Research Unit Small Grants Scheme. 2012 $19,396.50
3. King A, Nowak AK, Halkett GB, Miller L. Confidence to Care: Development and piloting of a structured home-based support and education program for carers of people with high grade glioma. Cancer and Palliative Care Research Unit Small Grants Scheme. 2012 $25,000
4. Nowak AK, Rosenthal M, Simes J, Ryan G, Drummond K. Phase III trial of Concurrent and Adjuvant Temozolomide chemotherapy in non-1p/19q codeleted grade III astrocytoma. $396,175. Priority Driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme, Cancer Australia, 2012-14
5. Robinson C, Nowak AK, Lake RA. A High Fidelity Model of Malignant Mesothelioma. $? 2012/13 Cancer Council WA.
6. Severi G, McDonald K, Vajdic C, Nowak AK, Rosenthal M, Drummon K, Walker D, Jeffree R. Risk and Prognostic Factors for Glioma in Australia. $600,000 2012-14. Cancer Australia.

• 2011
1. Nelson D, Nowak AK, Alvarez J, Wikstrom M. Dendritic cells in malignant pleural mesothelioma. Slater and Gordon ad hoc Asbestos Research Fund. 2011. $5000
2. Robinson BWS, Lake RA, Nowak AK, Fisher S, Cleaver A. Cross Presentation and tumour immunology. NHMRC. 2012-2014
3. Nowak AK. Characterisation and predictive value of the human cellular response to chemoimmunotherapy with cisplatin, pemetrexed and CD40 activation. Cancer Council WA. 2012. $89,983.00

• 2010
1. Francis RJ, Nowak AK, McCarthy M, Loh N, Segard T, Bynevelt M, Morandeau L. C-11 methionine and F-18 Fluorothymidine PET imaging in suspected residual or recurrent glioma. ANZSNM Research Grant 2010 $18,600 (Francis and Nowak co-principal investigators).
2. Robinson BWS, Creaney J, Nowak AK, Lake R, Musk AW, Fazekas de St Groth B, Palmer L, Simpson R, Skates S, Watkins D. National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases. NHMRC Centres for Research Excellence funding. 2010-2014. $4.5M.

• 2009
1. Creaney J, Segal A, Robinson BWS, Nowak AK. Is MUC1 a viable therapeutic target for patients with the asbestos-induced tumour malignant mesothelioma? NHMRC Project Grant 634377. 2010 $147700; 2011 $147700; 2012 $147700.
2. Holman CDJ, Emory J, Saunders CM, Walter FM, Moorin RE, Auret KA, Preen DB, Bulsara M. Nowak AK (AIB). NHMRC Partnership Project 572765. A Partnership Intervention Trial to Redress Treatment Delay and Improve Outcomes in Rural Cancer Patients. 2010-2014 $1 215 262 over 5 years.

• 2008
1. Nowak AK. New Independent Researcher Infrastructure Support Award. Department of Health, Western Australia. 2008 $10,000.
2. Fogarty G, Burmeister B, Drummond K, Nowak AK, Rezo A, Thompson J. Whole Brain Radiotherapy following local treatment of intracranial metastases of melanoma – a randomised phase III trial. Cancer Australia. 2009 $133,350; 2010 $150, 000
3. Nowak AK, Lake RA, Robinson BWS, Millward M, van der Most R. Optimising regulatory T cell depletion in combination with chemotherapy for enhanced anti-tumour immunity. NHMRC project grant. 2009 $154 000; 2010 $154 000; 2011 $154 000.

• 2007
1. Nowak AK. Communication Skills Training Grant. National Breast Cancer Centre. 2007. $3478.
2. Oldham L, Halkett G, Nowak AK. Determining and meeting the needs of Grade III-IV High Grade Glioma patients and their carers. 2008. HOTTAH grant. $24,971.72
3. Monterosso L, Aoun S, Joske D, Nowak A, Oliver D. Effect of a complementary therapy program on newly diagnosied patients with breast, brain and colorectal cancer: A randomized, controlled, crossover trial. Edith Cowan University Industry Collaboration Scheme. 2008/2009. $66,186.00
4. Lake RA, van der Most R, Nowak AK, Robinson BWS. NK cells as the missing link between anti-cancer chemotherapy and CD8 T cell responses. National Health and Medical Research Council.2008-10. $310,000.
5. Rosenthal M, Simes J, Hovey E, Drummond K, Nowak A, Walker D, Ryan G, Joseph D, Cher L, Price M, McDonald K. Co-operative Trials Group for Neuro-oncology (COGNO). Cancer Australia National Co-operative Clinical Trials Group funding. 2008. $198,000.
6. Palmer L, Nowak A, Teo C, McDonald K, Wheeler H, Joseph D, Robinson B. Australian Genomics and Clinical Outcomes of High Grade Glioma: AGOG. Cancer Council NSW Strategic Research Partnership (STREP) grant. 2008 $249 998; 2009 $247 029; 2010 $247 029; 2011 $247 029 2012 $247 029

• 2006
1. Nelson D, Nowak AK, Ganss R, Currie A. Australian Lung Foundation/Asbestos Research Group Award. Altering infiltrating immune cells and tumor-associated blood vessels in Malignant Mesothelioma using ‘Angio-immuno’ agents 2006: $160 000.
2. Byrne MJ, Van der Schaaf A, Francis R, Nowak A, Boucek J. Role of FLT PET in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma – Prediction of Response to Chemotherapy. NHMRC Asbestos Research Program. 3%. 2007 $80 000; 2008 $80 000
3. Lake RA, Robinson C, Nowak AK. A National Resource for Mouse Models of Mesothelioma. NHMRC Asbestos Research Program. 3%. 2007 $200 000; 2008 $200 000
4. Robinson BWS, Reynolds P, Currie A, van der Most R, Lake RA, Nowak AK, Scott B. Integrating conventional mesothelioma therapies with immuno- and gener therapies. NHMRC Asbestos Research Program. 3%. 2007 $287 965; 2008 $284 425; 2009 $283 225
5. Nowak AK, Halkett G, Lobb E. Determining the needs of grade III-IV High Grade Glioma patients. Schering Plough Grant-in-aid. 2007 $15,303
6. Robinson BWS, Thompson PJ, Lake RA, Musk AW, Mutsaers S, Nowak AK. Centre of Research Excellence in Pulmonary and Environmental Medicine. NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence Grant. 2007-2011 $610 000 per annum

• 2005
1. Nowak AK, Taylor M, Joseph DJ, Knuckey N. Development of a multidisciplinary clinical database to evaluate treatment pathways and clinical outcomes in Brain Tumours at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. $36,159. Western Australian Clinical Oncology Group Clinical Service Co-ordination/Audit Grant 2005.
2. Nowak AK, Lake RA. Chemoimmunotherapy with cisplatin, pemetrexed and CD40 activation in a murine model of malignant mesothelioma. 2006:$29 946. UWA Research Grants Scheme.
3. Nowak AK, Lake RA, Robinson BWS. Chemoimmunotherapy – characterising and exploiting the immune response. Raine Priming Grant. 2006: $62,228.96; 2007: $71,374.54. Raine Medical Research Foundation.
4. Byrne MJ, van der Schaaf A, Nowak AK, Musk AW, Francis R, Robinson BWS, Segal A, Price R. Use of FDG PET in the assessment of tumour extent and response in Pleural Mesothelioma. Cancer Council WA. 2006: $59 000; 2007: $59 000.
5. Nowak AK, Lake RA. Developing a model of chemoimmunotherapy with cisplatin, pemetrexed and CD40 activation in a murine model of malignant mesothelioma. 2006: $9840. Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital Research Fund.

• 2004
1. Simes R, Hugh T, Gebski V, Riordan S, Fink M, Cebon J, Olnyk J, Crawford D, Price T, Zalcberg J, Nowak A. Adjuvant interferon and/or celecoxib for hepatoma. $42 000 (2004); $42 000 (2005). Cancer council of South Australia, Queensland Cancer Fund. Funds returned as study non-viable.
2. Stockler M, Wilcken N, Wyld D, Turner J, Byrne M, Nowak A, Koczwara B, Healey. The ZEST Trial a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of Zoloft’s Effects on Symptoms and survival Time in Advanced Cancer. $89 825 (2004); $65 425 (2005). Cancer councils of SA, NSW.

• 2002
1. Lawson M, Nowak AK, Lake RA. Vaccination against mesothelioma using recombinant CMV expressing tumour antigens. $270,000 over 3 years. Granting body: Western Australian Institute of Medical Research.

Industrial relevance

Partnerships with the pharmaceutical industry for clinical trials in medical oncology, both investigator-initiated and pharma sponsored.

Teaching overview

Chair, Evidence Based Medicine Working Party, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences.


- Radiological Imaging of Response
- PET imaging; FDG and novel agents.
- Clinical trials of novel agents and immunotherapy (Phase I, II).
- Quality of Life research.
- Animal models of chemo-immunotherapy

High Grade Glioma
- AGOG collaboration principal investigator
- Patterns of Care database
- psycho-oncology studies.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

Leadership, MLdshp, Deakin University

Award Date: 1 Aug 2022

Medicine, PhD, Chemoimmunotherapy in a murine model of Mesothelioma, The University of Western Australia

Award Date: 30 Nov 2003

Medicine, MBBS, The University of Western Australia

Award Date: 1 Dec 1990

Research expertise keywords

  • Cancer
  • Clinical trials
  • Psycho-oncology, patient-based measures and quality of life analysis
  • Tumour immunology


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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