PhD Scholarship Top-up student profile: Nina Na


Incidence and risk factors for cancer after heart, lung and liver transplantation in Australia

Award:  Nina is a recipient of a two-year PhD Scholarship Top-up

Supervisor: A/Professor Claire Vajdic, Team Leader, Cancer Aetiology and Prevention Program, Adult Cancer Program, UNSW

Nina’s research includes both epidemiological and laboratory components:

  • The epidemiological study is a retrospective cohort study of cancer incidence in Australians after liver and cardiothoracic transplantation. It involves data linkage between national registers of liver and cardiothoracic transplantation, the National Death Index and the Australian Cancer Database. The overall aims are (i) to estimate the overall and site-specific risk of cancer; (ii) to examine risk factors for cancer and cause-specific death in these transplant recipients.
  • The laboratory component will examine the histopathological and genetic characteristics of colorectal cancers arising in immune deficient individuals. It will advance our understanding of the pathobiology of these neoplasms in the context of immune deficiency.


How will your project bridge the gap between research and practice?

Cancer has become the leading cause of death in liver and heart transplant recipients. However, there are no national registry based studies regarding to cancer incidence and risk factors in the transplant recipient population in Australia. The project provides an evidence base for cancer prevention strategies, targeted cancer screening of high-risk patients, and will maximise survival after cancer diagnosis. Furthermore, the longitudinal data on the dose and type of immunosuppression and other clinical characteristics, including infections and co-existing disease, allowing for the identification of specific cancer prevention strategies in these high-risk patients.


“The TCRN provides me with a great opportunity to meet other clinicians and researchers working in the area of translational cancer research. Understanding other translational cancer research will undoubtedly broaden my knowledge of how to translate this research from the bench to improved patient outcomes. The collaboration between clinicians and researchers will eventually benefit cancer patients. In addition, the TCRN Scholarship Top-up and its travel fund is a great support in allowing me to attend a number of essential conferences related to my research and to share my research findings with a wider audience.”

Nina completed her PhD studies at the Prince of Wales Clinical School, UNSW in 2015.

 TCRN PhD Scholarship Top-up awardee Nina Na