The University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute
Dr Bowden’s main research interest is DNA repair in cancer, particularly melanoma and ovarian cancer. Cisplatin is a chemotherapy drug used to treat many cancers, however, it is almost completely ineffective for melanoma. Both sunlight and cisplatin work in the same way – both damage the DNA of cells, which usually results in the cell either fixing the damage or dying if the damage is too great. The repair of DNA damage caused by sunlight and cisplatin, is performed by a process called nucleotide excision repair (NER). She discovered that NER does not work properly in melanoma cells that have been treated with UV or cisplatin. Her research is now focused on “switching” NER back on in melanoma patients so that cisplatin therapy will work.
Nikola regularly attends Hunter Melanoma Hub and Hunter Melanoma Foundation meetings to update both groups and answer questions about melanoma research. She was invited to speak at the Melanoma Patients Australia ball and Cure Cancer Australia Foundation major fundraiser in 2013. Nikola has also spoken about the issues faced by female, early career researchers in the Newcastle Herald (2014) and on the Women in Science Blog (2015) and her research breakthroughs are frequently covered by the media, including ABC, NBN television news.