Our People

Professor Maria Kavallaris

Sch Women's&Children's Health



Professor Maria Kavallaris is Head of the Tumour Biology and Targeting Program at Children's Cancer Institute and Director of the Australian Centre for NanoMedicine at UNSW.

Her research contributions are internationally regarded and include identifying the mechanisms of action and resistance to anticancer drugs, discovering new protein interactions in cancer and the development of less toxic cancer therapies using nanotechnology.

Professor Kavallaris has held numerous competitive fellowships. She is a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Principal Research Fellow and Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (AAHMS). Her research contributions have been recognised by international and national awards and prizes including an International Agency for Research on Cancer Fellowship, an American Association for Cancer Research Women in Cancer Research Award, NHMRC Career Development Award, a Young Tall Poppy Award and an Australian Museum Eureka Prize. She is regularly invited to speak at and chair international meetings.

Professor Kavallaris's expertise is reflected in invitations to edit a book, contribute book chapters and review articles, including Nature Reviews Cancer. Her research is supported by competitive research funding from diverse agencies including the NHMRC and Australian Research Council.

Professor Kavallaris has served on numerous committees including the Program Committee for the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research and the International NanoMedicine conference, and on funding review panels. She is Chair of the Board of the Australian Institute for Policy and Science and has played a major role in advocating medical research through public outreach. She has served as President of the Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR) and was recognised by the NHMRC in 2014 as an Australian ‘high achiever’ in health and medical research. She serves on the NHMRC Research Committee where she contributes to high level research policy. Professor Kavallaris has been recognised for her broader contributions to research, mentoring and research policy through an Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence and Knowledge Nation 100.


PhD - University of New South Wales

B App Sci - University of Technology Sydney



2017-2021                                 NHMRC Principle Research Fellowship


2014-2018                                 NHMRC Established Career Fellowship.  Highly competitive national award


2009 – 2013                              NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship.  Highly competitive national award


2004 – 2008                              NHMRC RD Wright Career Development Fellowship.  Highly competitive national award.


1996                                            International Agency for Research on Cancer, Cancer Research Training Fellowship*.  World Health Organisation.  Host: Prof. Susan B Horwitz, Department Molecular Pharmacology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York, USA.  *Highly competitive fellowship with only 13 awarded worldwide in 1995.



2015                                            “Knowledge Nation 100”  (Australia’s top 100 visionaries, intellects, founders and game changers who help shape the country’s future prosperity).


2015                                            The Australian Financial Review & Westpac “100 Women of Influence” Award


2013                                            NSInnovations People’s Choice Award and Division Finalist for the “Development of a first-in-class lung cancer therapeutic


2011                                            OEEGA International Women’s Day – Award for Excellence in the field of Scientific Research


2007                                            Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Voiceless Research Which Replaces the Use of Animals or Animal Products – “Unravelling the Enigma of Drug Resistance in Cancer” – M Kavallaris, S Pouha and Nicole Verrills.  $10,000 prize


2007 (Oct)                                 Visiting Professorship Awarded from the University of Marseille, France (all expenses paid)


2005                                            Achievement Award International Women’s Day – in recognition of “extraordinary contributions to research”, Cyprus Community of NSW


2004                                            Young Tall Poppy Award – recognises “achievements of outstanding young researchers in the sciences and biomedical sciences”, Australian Institute of Policy and Science


2002                                            Institute Award - Children’s Cancer Institute Australia for Outstanding Service in Pursuit of the Institute’s Vision


1998                                            Leo & Jenny Leukaemia and Cancer Foundation Your Research of the Year.  Finalist and Merit Certificate Awardee.


1998                                            Bristol Myers Squibb Oncology Young Investigator Award – American Association for Cancer Research Meeting, New Orleans, March, 1998.  Highly competitive award.


1997                                            B G Levanthal Scholar Award – Women in Cancer Research.  American Association for Cancer Research Meeting, San Diego, CA, April 1997.  Highly competitive award.


1996                                            Bristol Myers Squibb Oncology Travel Award – American Association for Cancer Research Meeting, Washington DC, April 1996.  Highly competitive.


1994                                            NSW State Cancer Council Travel Grant.  To attend the “New Horizons in Amplification Technology” conference in San Francisco, June 1994.  These awards were presented to promising young investigators to enable them to attend and present at international meetings.


1990                                            Tow Research Prize – Coast Medical Association Meeting, Prince Henry Hospital, NSW, Australia

Field of Research (FOR) Tag: 
Cancer Cell Biology
Cancer Therapy (excl. Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy)
Teaching & Supervision
I am available to supervise: 
Media & Expertise
Areas of expertise: 

Cancer, antimitotic drugs, drug resistance.