Professor Anna Nowak

Started at UWA: 1990

Leading oncologist in malignant mesothelioma and neuro-oncology research

One of the most rewarding aspects of cancer research is taking a concept all the way through from the laboratory to treating people with cancer, and seeing it improve people’s lives. Professor Anna Nowak

Professor Anna Nowak is Associate Dean (Research) and Deputy Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. She is a Medical Oncologist at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (SCGH) and Professor within the School of Medicine at The University of Western Australia and Director of the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD) at UWA.

Professor Nowak completed her medical training at UWA in 1990, medical oncology training (FRACP) in 2000, and a PhD at UWA in 2003. She has longstanding research and clinical interests in malignant mesothelioma and neuro-oncology.

With her laboratory-based PhD thesis in tumour immunology, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in clinical trials and quality of life research, Professor Nowak has gained a unique translational perspective with expertise in laboratory science, clinical trials, patient-rated outcomes and quality of life.


While she has worked at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and UWA for most of her career, Professor Nowak has also spent time working in Sydney, New South Wales and Chicago, USA.

Professor Nowak conducts PhD supervisions and postgraduate medical student teaching, specialising in clinic based teaching, ward-based assessments, mentoring, research projects, lectures and evidence-based medicine. Professor Nowak is passionate about patient-doctor communication, mentoring, and women in oncology and science.

In 2020 she became an invited member of the board of the Cancer Council of Western Australia.

As the Director at UWA’s National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD), a National Health and Medical Research Council Centre for Research Excellence focused on mesothelioma, Professor Nowak leads and collaborates with around 35 scientific staff and graduate students.



As the Director at UWA’s National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases (NCARD), a National Health and Medical Research Council Centre for Research Excellence focused on mesothelioma, Professor Nowak works alongside 35 scientific staff. NCARD has an international reputation for mesothelioma immunology, biomarkers and translational clinical trials. Professor Nowak’s main focus is on clinical trials in mesothelioma, with a specific interest in chemoimmunotherapy, translational biomarkers and imaging in clinical trials.



Anna is the chair of the Australian CoOperative trials Group for Neuro-Oncology (COGNO). Professor Nowak previously co-chaired the Brain Cancer Biobanking Australia for two years following its inception. As the co-principal investigator of the Australian Genomics and Outcomes of Glioma biobanking collaboration, Professor Nowak provided clinical leadership to a team that collected tumour and blood biospecimens and correlative clinical data from over 1000 patients with glioma. This biospecimen bank is now available as a research resource.

Notable Achievements

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WA Cancer Researcher of the Year, Cancer Council Western Australia, 2018

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Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation Pioneer Award (USA), 2017

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Emeritus Professor Eric G Saint Memorial Award in recognition of excellence in research and care in Asbestos Diseases, 2014

Raine Research Prize, Raine Foundation (Best Research Paper), 2005

Oral Presentation Award, Consultant’s proffered papers, Medical Oncology group of Australia national conference, 2003

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International Mesothelioma Interest Group New Investigator Award, 2002

Top mesothelioma investigator named cancer researcher of the year



USA Department of Defense

  • The MexTAg Collaborative Cross: Understanding Genetic Modifiers in Mesothelioma.
  • Fisher S, Lake RA, Morahan G, Ram R, Nowak AK, Lesterhuis J, Bueno R.

iCARE Dust Diseases Board

  • The MexTAg Collaborative Cross.
  • Fisher S, Lake RA, Nowak AK.

iCARE Dust Diseases Board

  • Identifying immune biomarkers of response to chemotherapy in malignant mesothelioma.
  • McDonnell A, Nowak AK, Lake RA, Robinson B, Cook A.


Slater and Gordon (Health Projects and Research Fund)

  • Mesothelioma and exercise
  • Nowak AK, Fisher S, McIntyre C, Lake RA, Newton R.


NHMRC project grant

  • Compartmental analysis of T-cell responses in thoracic malignancies.
  • Robinson BWS, Lee YCG, Creaney J, Lake RA, Holt R, Nowak AK, Watson M, Pearson, Chee J.

More grants and publications.

Contact Executive Assistant Tracy Hayward