Dr Nicholas Zdenkowski
(BMed, FRACP, Dip Pall Care, Clinical Research Fellow, Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group / Department of Medical Oncology )

DepartmentMedical Oncology
Research AreasDiagnostics / Screening, Health Services Research, Therapy and Treatment, Supportive Care
Research TopicsBreast Cancer, Gastrointestinal Cancer
Research TypesClinical Trials, Survey / Observational Research

Dr Nick Zdenkowski has been conducting clinical research in the Department of Medical Oncology at the Calvary Mater Newcastle since 2010. He currently works with the Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group. His main interests are breast and gastro-intestinal cancer. He is currently investigating whether dietary supplements can improve symptoms in advanced pancreatic cancer. He is also working on a project to assist women facing decisions about breast cancer treatments.

More information on Dr Zdenkowski may be found here:


Getting to know you

When did you start doing research?

My involvement in research began when I started at the Calvary Mater. Working in the Oncology Department, there are many multi-centre clinical trials recruiting patients, along with an experienced team of clinical trial co-ordinators. This experience has helped me to design my own research projects.

What is your most significant contribution to research?

I am the principal investigator on the PICNIC study, a randomised placebo controlled trial investigating the effect of pancreatic enzyme supplementation in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. This study is successfully recruiting participants in the Hunter Region. I hope to contribute evidence that will improve quality of life and nutrition in this group of patients who typically have a poor prognosis.

What research achievement are you most proud of?

I am early in my research career, so I don't have many results to boast about. I was most proud when the first patient was randomised onto the first clinical trial that I developed and implemented; the PICNIC study.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by people who bring other people together to produce great collaborative projects. People who can recognise potential and are able to make connections that fit together pieces of an answer to an important question.

What did you do before coming to work at Calvary Mater Newcastle?

I worked as a junior doctor at RoyalNorthShoreHospital in Sydney, whilst studying for my physician exams. It was a busy clinical job, and I had to hit the books in every spare minute, so there wasn't much time for research!

What did you do before you became a researcher?

I was a clinician, and I still am. I was a junior doctor, doing a range of different specialty terms, before settling on medical oncology as a career.

What made you decide to do research?

Oncology is such a fertile ground for research. There are so many unanswered questions, and opportunities to make a difference to patients' lives. At the Mater the environment is conducive to conducting clinical research and junior clinicians are encouraged to take part.

What was your first / worst / best / strangest / memorable /etc job in research?

I am really enjoying my work at the ANZBCTG, surrounded by people who are skilled and experienced in running large clinical trials. There are so many people who are passionate about research and who have great ideas.

What do you do to relax?

My daily bicycle commute to and from work helps me wind down and clear my head after a days work (and after a busy morning getting the kids ready for the day!). On weekends I like to ride my mountain bike in beautiful places like Glenrock State Park.

What is the craziest thing you have ever had to do "in the name of research"?

Probably the time I rode a 50cc motor scooter to the top of the tallest mountain in Thailand, just because I had to know what was at the top. It is the nature of an enquiring mind! 

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