Associate Professor Nikola Bowden

Associate Professor Nikola Bowden
Research Program:
Project Grant
2018 Project Grant
Project Grant
2018 Project Grant
Project Grant
2018 Project Grant
Project Grant
2017 Project Grant
Project Grant
2017 Project Grant
Equipment Grant
2017 Equipment Grant
Project Grant
2017 Project Grant
Project Grant
2017 Project Grant
Fellowship
2017 Fellowship
Project Grant
2016 Project Grant
Project Grant
2015 Project Grant
Travel Grant
2015 Travel Grant
Project Grant
2015 Project Grant
Project Grant
2014 Project Grant
Project Grant
2014 Project Grant
Equipment Grant
2014 Equipment Grant
Project Grant
2013 Project Grant
Scholarship
2012 Scholarship
Project Grant
2012 Project Grant
Project Grant
2011 Project Grant
Project Grant
2010 Project Grant
Project Grant
2009 Project Grant
Project Grant
2008 Project Grant
Project Grant
2007 Project Grant
Project Grant
2007 Project Grant
Project Grant
2007 Project Grant

What are your research interests?

  • Testing old chemotherapy drugs in new ways to treat melanoma and ovarian cancer patients who are resistant to treatment.
  • Developing a test that can be used to determine if a ovarian cancer patient has responded to their chemotherapy
  • Investigating how UV-light damages DNA and causes melanomas to develop. If we know how UV causes a melanoma we can either reverse it or try to prevent it.

Why did you get into research?

I have always loved being a problem-solver. Ever since I was in high school I got really excited about being given a complex maths, physics or chemistry problem and using what we had been taught to figure out the answer. Medical research is essentially the same thing, we find a big problem - for example, cancer becoming resistant to chemotherapy - and we take all the knowledge we have to think about how we could stop that happening or how we could reverse it. There is nothing more exciting than piecing together data and seeing the answer start to appear.

What would be the ultimate goal for your research?

Our ultimate goal would be to see all cancer patients have a treatment that works for them. Not necessarily a cure, but treatments that allow people to live long and happy lives, even if that means living with their cancer. We have reached our ultimate goal if people die with their cancer rather than because of it.

Brief Profile

Associate Professor Nikola Bowden is the DNA Repair Group Leader and a Cancer Institute NSW Career Development Fellow in the Cancer Research Program of HMRI. She holds a PhD in Medical Genetics and B. Biomedical Science (Hons) from the University of Newcastle. Associate Professor Bowden leads a team of research staff, students and clinicians who are working together to use traditional chemotherapy in new ways to treat melanoma and ovarian cancer. Her team has also made major contributions towards understanding why melanomas develop from excessive UV-light exposure and were the first to find the DNA repair does not work well in melanomas.

Associate Professor Bowden is Chair of the Australian Academy of Science Early-Mid Career Researcher Forum and was awarded a prestigious NSW Young Tall Poppy Award in 2015. Prior to this she was the University of Newcastle Young Alumni of the Year in 2011 and HMRI Pulse Prize recipient in 2006. Her team has received funding from the NHMRC, Cancer Institute NSW, Cancer Australia, Cure Cancer Australia, Ramaciotti Foundation, HMRI, Hunter Melanoma Foundation, Supporters of Cancer, the McGuigan Family, the Cameron Family, Oxfords Hockey Club and HMRI Life Governor Jennie Thomas.

The DNA repair team is working towards using old chemotherapies to damage the DNA of tumours just enough that the patient’s immune system will recognise the damage and and kill the tumour.  The overall aim is to reduce the amount of chemotherapy patients receive so that their immune system can help keep the cancer under control. Used in combination with new immunotherapies, this will achieve longer, healthier survival times for cancer patients.

Specialised/Technical Skills 

  • UV-light studies
  • Combination chemotherapy studies (in vitro and in vivo)
  • Cell biology
  • Molecular biology
  • Genomics
  • Molecular analysis of fixed tissue
  • Combining genomic, protein and clinical data 

Affiliations

2018

Repurposing traditional chemotherapy to prime advanced melanoma for immune therapy
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Nikola Bowden, Dr Andre van der Westhuizen

Description:

To overcome treatment resistance in melanoma there needs to be i) decrease in the amount of disease and ii) re-establishment of tumour recognition by the immune system.

more
Development of a chemotherapy response/resistance test for ovarian cancer
Project Grant
Description:

Ovarian cancer is usually treated with a chemotherapy drug called cisplatin which works by damaging DNA so much that the tumour cells die. Cisplatin is used to treat a wide variety of tumours in addition to ovarian cancer including, testicular, head and neck and non-small cell lung cancer. In addition, it forms the basis of most combined treatment regimes (where 2 or more drugs are used in combination). The downside to cisplatin is that it is extremely toxic and although some patients benefit substantially from treatment, a large proportion suffer the toxic side effects without any therapeutic benefit. We are aiming to develop a personal test to determine if cisplatin is likely to be effective for an individual’s ovarian cancer, so that the toxic side effects can be avoided if the drug is not going to work.

more
Teaching old dogs new tricks – PARP inhibitors as treatments for childhood cancers
Project Grant
Description:

Cancer is the most common cause of childhood disease-related deaths, with leukaemia the most common childhood cancer in Australia.

more

2017

Investigation of DNA repair and the epigenome in chemoresistant high grade serous ovarian cancer
Project Grant
Description:

Aim 1: Confirmation of ERCC1 biomaker of chemoresistance; Aim 2: Investigate the epigenome of ovarian cancer extreme responders and non-responders to platinum chemotherapy

more
Too Much of a Good Thing: Application for a triple-gas incubator to allow cell culture under normal conditions
Equipment Grant
Description:

A very useful and convenient method used in many fields of medical research involves growing cells in the laboratory. Cells are ""cultured"" in plastic dishes in incubators that provide an environment warmed to body temperature, 37 degrees Celsius. Human cells also require carbon dioxide to grow and this is added to the ambient air in the incubator. This kind of cell culture has been used for over a century and has been accepted as the standard way of growing cells in the laboratory. This method is very important and useful in cancer research.

more
Development of a chemotherapy response/resistance test for ovarian cancer
Project Grant
Researchers:
Description:

Ovarian cancer is usually treated with a chemotherapy drug called cisplatin which works by damaging DNA so much that the tumour cells die. Cisplatin is used to treat a wide variety of tumours in addition to ovarian cancer including, testicular, head and neck and non-small cell lung cancer. In addition, it forms the basis of most combined treatment regimes (where 2 or more drugs are used in combination). The downside to cisplatin is that it is extremely toxic and although some patients benefit substantially from treatment, a large proportion suffer the toxic side effects without any therapeutic benefit. We are aiming to develop a personal test to determine if cisplatin is likely to be effective for an individual’s ovarian cancer, so that the toxic side effects can be avoided if the drug is not going to work.

more
Re-purposing PARP inhibitors to treat childhood leukaemias
Project Grant
Description:

Cancer is the most common cause of childhood disease-related deaths, with leukaemia the most common childhood cancer in Australia. The two most common forms of leukaemia in children are acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Whilst remission is achievable in over 95% of ALL cases, 1/3 of patients will relapse within 5 to 10 years, and these children will not be long-term survivors. AML accounts for 20% of all childhood leukaemias, and the outlook for children diagnosed with AML is much worse, with only approximately half of children surviving for 5 years post-diagnosis.

more
Vanessa McGuigan HMRI Research Fellowship in Ovarian Cancer supported by the McGuigan Family
Fellowship
Researchers:
Description:

Ovarian cancer is most commonly treated with a chemotherapy drug called cisplatin. Cisplatin works by damaging DNA so much that the tumour cells die. It forms the basis of most combined treatment regimes (where two or more drugs are used in combination). The downside to cisplatin is that it is extremely toxic and although some patients benefit substantially from treatment, a large proportion suffer the toxic side effects without any therapeutic benefit.

more
Repurposing traditional chemotherapy to prime advanced melanoma for immune therapy
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Nikola Bowden, Dr Andre van der Westhuizen

Description:

To overcome treatment resistance in melanoma there needs to be i) decrease in the amount of disease and ii) re-establishment of tumour recognition by the immune system.

more

2016

Development of a chemotherapy test for ovarian cancer
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Nikola Bowden, Dr Jim Scurry, Dr Geoff Otton, Dr Ken Jaaback, Dr Janine Lombard

Description:

Project Goal - To develop a test for predicting ovarian cancer response/resistance to cisplatin chemotherapy that can be quickly implemented in clincial centres. Such a test would let the doctor know that the patient is becoming resistant to cisplatin chemotherapy. At this stage there is no test available meaning some people remain on the wrong treatment protocol for the course of their treatment, suffereing toxic side effects for no benefit. The sooner treatment is switched the higher the chance that the patient will respond. 

more

2015

Development of a chemotherapy test for ovarian cancer
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Nikola Bowden, Dr Jim Scurry, Dr Geoff Otton, Dr Ken Jaaback, Dr Janine Lombard
 

Description:

To develop a test for predicting ovarian cancer response/resistance to cisplatin chemotherapy that can be quickly implemented in clincial centres.

more
Travel Grant - AACR Conference, USA, April 2016 - Moira Graves
Travel Grant
Development of a chemotherapy response/resistance test for ovarian cancer
Project Grant
Researchers:
Description:

Ovarian cancer is usually treated with a chemotherapy drug called cisplatin which works by damaging DNA so much that the tumour cells die. 

more

2014

Triple-gas incubator
Equipment Grant
Description:

Dr Gedye’s basic laboratory research within the HMRI Building will focus on ways of targeting these more aggressive kidney cancer cells, and hopefully lead to novel combinations of old and new drugs to work with the medications routinely used in the clinic.

more
Development of a chemotherapy response/resistance test for ovarian cancer
Project Grant
Researchers:
Development of a chemotherapy response/resistance test for ovarian cancer
Project Grant
Researchers:
Description:

Ovarian cancer is usually treated with a chemotherapy drug called cisplatin which works by damaging DNA so much that the tumour cells die.

more

2013

Development of a chemotherapy response/resistance test for ovarian cancer
Project Grant
Researchers:
Description:

Ovarian cancer is usually treated with a chemotherapy drug called cisplatin which works by damaging DNA so much that the tumour cells die.

more

2012

Rotary Club of Cardiff Melanoma Scholar Award
Scholarship
Researchers:
Develop a genetic test for diagnosis of childhood skin cancer and neurological disorders
Project Grant
Researchers:

2011

Development of a diagnostic genetic test for childhood skin cancer disorders - Lawrie Bequest Paediatric Oncology Research Project Grant
Project Grant
Researchers:

2010

Nucleotide excision repair gene expression in melanoma
Project Grant
Researchers:

Dr Nikola Bowden, Katie Ashton, Stephen Braye, Rodney Scott, Ricardo Vilain

2009

Genome wide SNP association study of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Project Grant

2008

Genome wide SNP association study of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
Project Grant

2007

Gene expression profiling of xeroderma pigmentosum
Project Grant
Researchers:
PULSE Education Prize
Project Grant
Researchers:
Identification of a predictive approach to assigning to undefined xeroderma pigmentosum patients to subgroups using gene expression profiling
Project Grant
Researchers: