Dr Kristen Nowak

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Honorary Senior Research Fellow

Dr Kristen Nowak


Associate Professor Kristen Nowak completed a Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology) with Honours in Molecular Biology at Murdoch University. She worked as a Research Assistant in Winthrop Professor Nigel Laing’s Laboratory at the University of Western Australia, before completing her PhD studies investigating the genetics and pathobiology of floppy baby syndrome and other muscle diseases. During this period she notably discovered the first mutations in the skeletal muscle actin gene (ACTA1) as causes of multiple, mostly devastating human skeletal muscle diseases (Nature Genetics, 1999).

As part of her NHMRC CJ Martin Fellowship, Kristen spent two years in Professor Dame Kay Davies’ Laboratory at the University of Oxford. It was here that she created and began characterising mouse models of skeletal muscle actin disease. These have now successfully been used to evaluate potential therapeutic approaches and treatments for congenital myopathies.

Currently, Kristen is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow, and Leader of the Animal Models and Therapies Team within the Laboratory for Neurogenetic Diseases headed by Winthrop Professor Nigel Laing. She is also actively pursuing the genetics and pathobiology of neurogenetic diseases.

Kristen is an active member of various committees and was on the Board of Directors for the Australian Society for Medical Research for 6 years (5 of those as Executive Director), during which time she was ASMR Medical Research Week® Convenor, Media Convenor, Career Development Convenor and National Scientific Conference Convenor amongst other roles. She was also a Tall Poppy Ambassador for WA. Kristen is passionate about communicating science and medical research to patient groups as well as the general community, especially school students.