Our People

Bianca Nowlan


Conjoint Gastroenterology



I have a rich background in cell biology, immunology and mouse modelling of diseases due to my range of experiences. I completed my honours in 2005 focused on microbiology and bioinformatics. Here I isolated and describe a new strain of halotolerant and alkalitolerant bacterium. After this, I joined Jean-Pierre Levesque at the Mater Research Institute as a research assistant for 10 years in the Stem Cell Biology Research team. I gained experience in hematopoietic stem cells, immune cell differentiation, leukaemia, and understanding the bone marrow microenvironment. I then started my Ph.D. supervised by Mike Doran and Elizabeth Williams focused on mesenchymal stromal cells and humanising mouse models. I worked extensively in developing and characterising the bone marrow microenvironment with application in establishing an improved prostate cancer metastasis bone marrow xenograft model. This experience put me in good stead with my work at QIMRB with the Immunology in Cancer & Infection team learning the implications of immunotherapy and the effect of immune reactivation. I have recently transitioned to the Conjoint Gastroenterology Laboratory and QIMRB, led by A/Prof Whitehall. Here I have the opportunity to lead a project exploring new options for immunotherapy for combating metastatic colorectal cancer. This disease has impacted my family greatly, driving my passion to find new therapies. My ability to approach problems from different angles, and to holistically consider the complex tumour-immune microenvironment using my broad skill set, is critical for the success of this project.


  • Research Officer, QIMRB, Conjoint Gastroenterology


  • Senior Research Assistant/Research Officer, QIMRB, Immunology in Cancer & Infection / Immune Targeting in Blood Cancers
  • Research Assistant, QUT, Stem Cell Therapies Laboratory
  • Research Assistant, Mater Research Institute, Stem Cell Biology Research
  • Program Resource Coordinator, Mater Research Institute
  • Research Assistant, Griffith University




My current position with Vicki Whitehall is to work on the NHMRC funded project entitled: Osteopontin (OPN) as an Immune Checkpoint in KRAS Mutant Colorectal Cancer. Here I am implementing a liver metastatic model of colorectal cancer to test therapy effectiveness in this model. Here I hope to apply all that I have learnt in my career to identify if the blockade of Osteopontin will overcome immunosuppression in colorectal metastatic disease and identify the mechanism behind this interaction.


  • Gastroenterological Society of Australia
  • Australian and New Zealand Society for Immunology


  • PhD, Queensland University of Technology
  • MSSc, Australian College Applied Psychology
  • BSc(honours), Griffith University