Dr Anna Nowak is the principal investigator for an NCARD grant which will examine whether imaging with a novel PET scan technique (FLT PET) can predict which patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma will benefit from chemotherapy.
Dr Nowak is a medical oncologist with broad experience in mesothelioma research from a laboratory and clinical research perspective to a patient management perspective. Anna graduated in medicine from UWA in 1991, and completed advanced training in Medical Oncology in 1999. She completed a PhD in 2002, working with a transfectant-transgenic model of murine mesothelioma.h patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma will benefit from chemotherapy.
Publications arising from this PhD were the first to systematically describe the effect of a chemotherapy drug, gemcitabine, on tumour antigen-specific adaptive immunity. This work was recognised locally, nationally and internationally with awards including the 2002 International Mesothelioma Interest Group New Investigator Award.
Dr Nowak’s work included a combination chemo-immunotherapy project which resulted in cures in up to 80% of mice with established tumours, work which has been widely cited and which has generated clinical trials in other tumour types. Anna was awarded the 2005 Raine Research Prize for the best biomedical research paper from the University of Western Australia from this work. She was also awarded a prestigious Raine Priming Grant and continues her work in this area.
Regarding her clinical research in mesothelioma, Dr Nowak also ran a multicentre chemotherapy trial, work also resulting in the first published validation of a Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQL) questionnaire in this disease. With Dr Michael Byrne, she developed the Modified RECIST Criteria for tumour assessment in mesothelioma, a system that has been adopted worldwide for clinical trials in this disease.
Dr Nowak has been an international invited speaker on this topic. She is currently involved in clinical trials of PET scanning in mesothelioma and a clinical trial of a phase II novel drug therapy in mesothelioma.