An internationally recognised researcher specialising in asbestos-related diseases at The University of Western Australia has today been named Cancer Council Western Australia’s (CCWA) WA Cancer Researcher of the Year.
UWA’s Professor Anna Nowak, who works as a medical oncologist and senior researcher at the National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases, was presented with the award at the annual CCWA Research Lunch at the Parmelia Hilton.
Cancer Council WA CEO Ashley Reid said the award was in recognition of Professor Nowak’s dedication to bettering the lives of WA mesothelioma patients and mentoring WA’s next generation of cancer researchers.
“Professor Nowak has initiated and led multiple clinical trials that have allowed WA patients access to cutting-edge experimental treatments they wouldn’t have otherwise had,” Mr Reid said.
“Cancer Council WA is incredibly proud to have provided funding for a number of Professor Nowak’s research projects over the years, and it’s exciting to see a number of the young researchers she’s mentored now successfully applying for our grants to continue the search for the next cancer breakthrough.”
Professor Nowak splits her time between clinical care of patients with cancer at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and research at the National Centre of Asbestos Related Diseases, based at UWA.
“WA has sadly one of the highest incidences in the world of mesothelioma and part of this is a legacy of Wittenoom – the former asbestos mining town in the Pilbara region of WA’s north-west,” she said.
Professor Nowak said for a long time researchers had believed chemotherapy and immunotherapy were opposing forces when it came to treatment.
“We all know that chemotherapy causes problems with the imune system but in fact that’s the part of the immune system that fights bacteria not the part of the immune system that fights cancer necessarily,” she said.
“We were part of the first team to show chemotherapy and imunotherapy together could actually work better rather than as opposing forces.
“Using the body’s own immune system to treat and hold in check the cancer is a fantastic strategy.”
The Cancer Council WA award is the latest in a string of accolades for Professor Nowak, who last year’s received the Pioneer Award from the International Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation for her exceptional achievements and dedication to mesothelioma research.
Professor Anna Nowak (National Centre of Asbestos Related Diseases) (+61 8) 6151 0923
Jess Reid (UWA Media and Public Relations Advisor) (+61 8) 6488 6876