Professor Nicholas Hawkins

Director, Office of Medical Educat

Office of Medical Education
Faculty of Medicine
+61 7 334 64634


Prof Hawkins is a medical graduate with postgraduate qualifications in Higher Education and Medical Science, and specialist qualifications in Anatomical Pathology (FRCPA). He is currently Director of the Office of Medical Education, within the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Queensland. He also leads the Biomedical Education Skills and Training (BEST) Network of online biomedical educators.

Nick is an experienced and innovative teacher of pathology in the undergraduate tertiary setting. He has a Master’s Degree in Higher Education, and nearly 30 years of experience in the teaching of pathology to undergraduate students in both science and medicine. In his role as Convenor of Phase 1 of the Medicine Program at UNSW (2003-June 2007), he was responsible for the effective running of the first two years of medical student training at UNSW. He has a track record of innovation in the teaching of undergraduate Pathology, including production of the Images of Disease CD of over 3500 pathology images. Since 2012 he has led the Biomedical Skills and Training (BEST) network, a collaboration of universities (The University of Queensland, UNSW Australia, Melbourne University and James Cook University) and industry groups, along with their educational technology partner Smart Sparrow. The BEST Network is developing collaborative online educational resources to support undergraduate and postgraduate students in a diverse range of biomedical disciplines. After joining the University of Queensland in 2015 as Professor of Innovative Technology in Medical Education, Nick was appointed to his current role in September 2016.

Since completing his doctoral thesis in 1993 (NHMRC Postgraduate Scholarship), Prof Hawkins has pursued research interests in the molecular basis of colorectal carcinogenesis. He has worked as a Visiting Research fellow at the Scripps Institute, La Jolla (1993), and at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London (1999). Drawing on his professional expertise in Anatomical Pathology, and his research training in molecular and cellular biology, he has pursued research in the correlation of histopathological features of colorectal neoplasia to the molecular characteristics of the disease. In this work, a key achievement has been the accumulation and documentation of a large series of colorectal cancer tissues that serves as the basis for the ongoing work of the research group. Using this tissue resource, he has been able to clearly demonstrate the critical role of precursor lesions in microsatellite unstable colorectal cancers. He and his colleagues have been at the forefront of descriptions of the phenomenon of CpG island methylation in colorectal cancer, and its biological significance. More recently, he has led efforts to develop processes for integration of biobanking and consenting processes within routine pathways of hospital care. He has over ninety publications in international peer reviewed journals, including first author publications in highest ranking journals in the fields of gastroenterology, pathology and cancer research. His work has been cited over 3700 times by other scientists (H Index 29). To date, he has obtained >$8M in peer-reviewed grant funding from diverse sources including NHMRC, Cancer Institute NSW and DEEWR.

Since 1996, a total of six PhD students, three Masters students and seven Honours students have successfully completed their degrees under his supervision. Active areas of research include colorectal cancer pathology and carcinogenesis; Genotype-phenotype correlations in cancer; Tumor immunity; Gene methylation in neoplastic progression.

Prof Hawkins is a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia, with specialist qualifications in Anatomical Pathology. The development of these professional skills has allowed him to better achieve his career goals in both research and teaching, and to maintain and further develop academic values within the profession of Anatomical Pathology.

Research Interests

  • Colorectal cancer
    Genetics and pathology of colorectal neoplasia

Research Impacts

  • Better understanding of the molecular basis of colorectal carcinogenesis. His work has been strongly influenced by his professional expertise in Anatomical Pathology, and his research training in molecular and cellular biology.
  • Systematic accumulation and documentation of a large series of colorectal cancer tissues (doi:10.5072/19/54d2872a57b05). This collection has served as the basis for nearly 40 publications to date, including the first descriptions of the clinicopathological significance of CpG island methylation in colorectal cancer, and the demonstration of the critical role of precursor lesions in microsatellite unstable colorectal cancers.
  • As Head of the BEST Network, Prof Hawkins has transformed a government funded two year project into an ongoing network of biomedical educators, who share resoureces adn tools for online learning via a dedicated portal. The network includes over 2000 academics worldwide, with a growing membership that now includes eight Australian universities.


  • Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery-Hons, University of New South Wales
  • Master of Higher Education, University of New South Wales
  • Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists of Aus, RCPA
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Pathology, University of New South Wales


  • Sakthianandeswaren, Anuratha, Parsons, Marie, Mouradov, Dmitri, MacKinnon, Ruth N., Catimel, Bruno, Liu, Sheng, Palmieri, Michelle, Love, Christopher G., Jorissen, Robert N., Li, Shan, Whitehead, Lachlan, Putoczki, Tracy L., Preaudet, Adele, Tsui, Cary, Nowell, Cameron J., Ward, Robyn L., Hawkins, Nicholas J., Desai, Jayesh, Gibbs, Peter, Ernst, Matthias, Street, Ian, Buchert, Michael and Sieber, Oliver M. (2018) MACROD2 haploinsufficiency impairs catalytic activity of PARP1 and promotes chromosome instability and growth of intestinal tumors. Cancer Discovery, 8 8: 988-1005. doi:10.1158/2159-8290.CD-17-0909

  • Domingo, Enric, Camps, Carme, Kaisaki, Pamela J., Parsons, Marie J., Mouradov, Dmitri, Pentony, Melissa M., Makino, Seiko, Palmieri, Michelle, Ward, Robyn L., Hawkins, Nicholas J., Gibbs, Peter, Askautrud, Hanne, Oukrif, Dahmane, Wang, Haitao, Wood, Joe, Tomlinson, Evie, Bark, Yasmine, Kaur, Kulvinder, Johnstone, Elaine C., Palles, Claire, Church, David N., Novelli, Marco, Danielsen, Havard E., Sherlock, Jon, Kerr, David, Kerr, Rachel, Sieber, Oliver, Taylor, Jenny C. and Tomlinson, Ian (2018) Mutation burden and other molecular markers of prognosis in colorectal cancer treated with curative intent: results from the QUASAR 2 clinical trial and an Australian community-based series. The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology, . doi:10.1016/S2468-1253(18)30117-1

  • Liu, Qing, Thoms, Julie A, Nunez, Andrea C, Huang, Yizhou, Knezevic, Kathy, Packham, Deborah, Poulos, Rebecca C., Williams, Rachel, Beck, Dominik, Hawkins, Nicholas J., Ward, Robyn L., Wong, Jason W. H., Hesson, Luke B, Sloane, Mathew A and Pimanda, John (2018) Disruption of a -35kb enhancer impairs CTCF binding and MLH1 expression in colorectal cells. Clinical Cancer Research, 24 18: clincanres.3678.2017-4611. doi:10.1158/1078-0432.ccr-17-3678

View all Publications


Journal Article

Conference Publication

  • Jonnagaddala, Jitendra, Croucher, Joanne L., Jue, Toni Rose, Meagher, Nicola S., Caruso, Lena, Ward, Robyn and Hawkins, Nicholas J. (2016). Integration and analysis of heterogeneous colorectal cancer data for translational research. In: Nursing Informatics 2016: eHealth for All: Every Level Collaboration – From Project to Realization . 13th International Conference on Nursing Informatics, Geneva, Switzerland, (387-391). 25-29 June 2016. doi:10.3233/978-1-61499-658-3-387

  • Peng, Junjie, Liu, Jia Jenny, Daniels, Benjamin, Firriolo, Joseph, Laaksonen, Maarit A., Hawkins, Nicholas J., Meagher, Alan P., Hayes, Ian, Croxford, Matthew, Cai, Sanjun and Ward, Robyn L. (2014). Retrospective comparison of rectal cancer treatment in China and Australia from 1995-2012. In: COSA's 41st Annual Scientific Meeting. Joining Forces - Accelerating Progress, Melbourne, Australia, (106-106). 2-4 December, 2014. doi:10.1111/ajco.12304

  • Ward, R, Cheong, K, Ku, S and Hawkins, NJ (2003). Adverse prognostic effect of methylation in colorectal cancer is reversed by microsatellite instability. In: 2nd Annual AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, Phoenix Arizona, (1290S-1290S). Oct 26-30, 2003.

  • Brown, DA, Liu, T, Ward, RL, Hawkins, NJ, Fairlie, WD, Bauskin, AR, Russell, PJ, Quinn, DI, Grygiel, JJ, Moore, AG, Sutherland, RL, Turner, J, Kingsley, EA and Breit, SN (2001). Macrophage inhibitory cytokine-1 (MIC-1) in epithelial neoplasia. In: Journal of Leukocyte Biology. , , (90-90). .

  • Ward, Robyn, Sheehan, Catherine, Norrie, Mark, Applegate, Tanya, Fuery, Caroline, Impey, Helen, Hawkins, Nicholas and Todd, Alison (2000). Factors influencing the detection of mutant K-ras in the serum of patients with colorectal cancer. In: , , (17-18). .

  • Ward, R. L., Clark, M. A., Papaioannou, A. and Hawkins, N. J. (1997). Generation of anti-tumour antibodies using phage display. In: IBC International Conference on Antibody Engineering. IBC International Conference on Antibody Engineering, San Diego, United States, (). 5-7 December 1996.