Senior Lecturer, School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine & Health
Research has been recognised by numerous awards and involvement in local and international conferences.
Experience in mentoring Honours, Masters, PhD and visiting students investigating pancreatic, breast, and prostate cancer.
Dr. Kovacevic completed her PhD in 2011 at the University of Sydney, where she also undertook her post-doctoral studies, being supported by joint NHMRC and CINSW Early Career and Career Development Fellowships. Her PhD studies focused on developing a new class of metal-binding thiosemicarbazones as anti-cancer agents and elucidating their molecular mechanisms in numerous cancer types including pancreatic, prostate and breast cancers. This work facilitated the entry of lead agent, DpC, into Australian multi-centre clinical trials in 2016. She also made significant contributions to understanding the function of the iron-regulated metastasis suppressor N-myc down-stream regulated gene 1 (NDRG1), identifying the important role of this protein in cancer progression, development of resistance to chemotherapies and cross-talk with the tumour microenvironment.
In 2020, Dr. Kovacevic established her independent research group at the University of Sydney, and in 2023 she relocated to UNSW where she now leads the Tumour Microenvironment group within the School of Biomedical Sciences. Her research is focused on understanding the cross-talk between cancer cells and the tumour microenvironment, with a particular interest in pancreatic cancer.
She has published 83 research outputs (>5800 citations) and attracted >$8.5 million in research grants/fellowships ($3 million as lead investigator). Her research achievements were recognized by the 2016 Premier's Award for Outstanding Cancer Research Fellow of the Year and the 2016 Sydney Medical School Award for Excellence for Outstanding Early Career Researcher.
Over her career, Dr. Kovacevic has co-supervised and mentored 11 Honours, 2 Masters and 10 PhD students to successful completion, with a further 10 international visiting PhD students mentored to completion as part of extensive international collaborations with China, Pakistan, Hong Kong and Germany. At UNSW, her team currently consists of 3 PhD students, 1 visiting PhD student, 1 research assistant and 1 post-doc. She is also co-supervisor to a further 2 PhD students at USYD and UNSW.
Dr. Kovacevic is also actively involved in peer review, being an Editorial Board Member for 9 international journals (i.e. Biochem. J, BBA Gen Subjects, Pharmacol. Res, etc.) and is regularly involved in grant assessment for national and international funding bodies (i.e. NHMRC, National Breast Cancer Foundation, Cancer Australia, Cancer Council). As a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physiology, Dr. Kovacevic is also integrally involved in teaching into undergraduate Medicine and Physiology units at UNSW.
Honours Class I (Dean’s List of Achievement), 2022, University of Sydney
Research focus: Extracellular vesicle biogenesis and crosstalk pathways in pancreatic cancer.
Masters of Science in Medicine (Infection and Immunity), 2017, University of Sydney
Research focus: Effect of the metastasis suppressor NDRG1 in pancreatic cancer metabolism and cross-talk with the immune tumour microenvironment.
Honours Class I, 2023, University of Sydney
Research focus: Metabolic crosstalk between pancreatic cancer cells and cancer associated fibroblasts.
Masters of Biosciences (Gold Medallist), 2019, University of Wah
Research focus: Role of Vitamin D and E in regulating the breast cancer microenvironment.