Dr Alexandra Mowday

BSc, MSc, PhD


Alexandra Mowday obtained her MSc (2009) and PhD (2015) in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Auckland under the supervision of Associate Professor Adam Patterson. In 2018, she joined the laboratory of Precison Medicine at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, working closely with Associate Professors Jan Theys and Ludwig Dubois. In 2020, she was awarded a ZonMW (Netherlands Organisation for Health and Research Development) grant as principal investigator, and in 2021 she returned to the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre to continue her research.



Research | Current

I have a strong interest in translational oncology, small animal non-invasive imaging techniques, and development of novel and innovative therapeutics that selectively target the tumour microenvironment. My current research involves use of the non-pathogenic anaerobic bacterium Clostridium sporogenes in cancer therapy. The germination of Clostridum spores into vegetative bacteria is restricted to areas of tumour necrosis, providing a unique opportunity to exploit this aspect of the tumour microenvironment for therapeutic benefit.

As part of an international multidisciplinary collaboration, we are using Clostridium to deliver imageable prodrug-activating genes to tumours, a concept termed Clostridium-Directed Enzyme Prodrug Therapy (CDEPT). We have funding to develop an armed C. sporogenes therapeutic product suitable for clinical testing. In addition, I am also investigating whether tumour selective Clostridium infection can re-wire the tumour microenvironment from 'cold' (immune suppressive) to 'hot' (immune permissive), and if this change can be used as a means to rendor non-responding tumours sensitive to subsequent immunotherapy delivery.


2020: Principal Investigator, ZonMW Off Road Grant 

2019: GROW science day best poster award, Maastricht University

2019NVGCT ZonMw Young Investigator Award

2016: Awardee, Flexible Research Funding Grant Category 4, Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery

2014: Brett Roche Memorial Award, Auckland Cancer Society

2011: Doctoral Scholarship, University of Auckland

2009: Faculty of Science Masters award, University of Auckland

Areas of expertise

  • Cancer gene therapy (GDEPT, CDEPT)
  • Cancer immunotherapy
  • Replicating biological vectors (Clostridium sporogenes, oncolytic viruses)
  • Drug development
  • Non-invasive imaging techniques (bioluminescence, microCT, microPET)

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • Affiliate Investigator, Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery
  • European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy
  • Netherlands Society of Gene and Cell Therapy
  • European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Guise, C., Abbattista, M., Mowday, A., Ashoorzadeh, A., Bull, M., Silva, S., ... Theys, J. (2017). SN36506: A rationally designed second generation analogue of PR-104 selected for clinical evaluation. Paper presented at 15th International Tumour Microenvironment Workshop, Miami, FL, USA. 27 April - 29 April 2017.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Amir Ashoorzadeh, Bob Anderson, Jack Flanagan, Kevin Hicks, Jeff Smaill, Adam Patterson, Matthew Bull
  • Copp, J. N., Mowday, A. M., Williams, E. M., Guise, C. P., Ashoorzadeh, A., Sharrock, A. V., ... Ackerley, D. F. (2017). Engineering a multifunctional nitroreductase for improved activation of prodrugs and PET probes for cancer gene therapy. Cell Chemical Biology, 24 (3), 391-403. 10.1016/j.chembiol.2017.02.005
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jeff Smaill, Amir Ashoorzadeh, Jack Flanagan, Adam Patterson
  • Mowday, A. M., Ashoorzadeh, A., Williams, E. M., Copp, J. N., Silva, S., Bull, M. R., ... Guise, C. P. (2016). Rational design of an AKR1C3-resistant analog of PR-104 for enzyme-prodrug therapy. Biochemical Pharmacology, 116, 176-187. 10.1016/j.bcp.2016.07.015
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jack Flanagan, Adam Patterson, Bob Anderson, Jeff Smaill, Amir Ashoorzadeh, Matthew Bull
  • Mowday, A. M., Guise, C. P., Ackerley, D. F., Minton, N. P., Lambin, P., Dubois, L. J., ... Patterson, A. V. (2016). Advancing Clostridia to Clinical Trial: Past Lessons and Recent Progress. Cancers, 8 (7), 1-14. 10.3390/cancers8070063
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Adam Patterson, Jeff Smaill
  • Williams, E. M., Little, R. F., Mowday, A. M., Rich, M. H., Chan-Hyams, J. V., Copp, J. N., ... Ackerley, D. F. (2015). Nitroreductase gene-directed enzyme prodrug therapy: Insights and advances toward clinical utility. Biochemical Journal, 471 (2), 131-153. 10.1042/BJ20150650
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Adam Patterson, Jeff Smaill
  • Mowday, A. M. (2015). Discovery and development of imaging-capable bacterial nitroreductases and their cytotoxic prodrugs for Clostridium sporogenes based gene therapy The University of Auckland. ResearchSpace@Auckland.
  • Guise, C. P., Mowday, A. M., Ashoorzadeh, A., Yuan, R., Lin, W.-H., Wu, D.-H., ... Ding, K. (2014). Bioreductive prodrugs as cancer therapeutics: Targeting tumor hypoxia. Chinese Journal of Cancer, 33 (2), 80-86. 10.5732/cjc.012.10285
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Adam Patterson, Jeff Smaill, Amir Ashoorzadeh
  • Green, L. K., Syddall, S. P., Carlin, K. M., Bell, G. D., Guise, C. P., Mowday, A. M., ... Ackerley, D. F. (2013). Pseudomonas aeruginosa NfsB and nitro-CBI-DEI - A promising enzyme/prodrug combination for gene directed enzyme prodrug therapy. Molecular Cancer, 12 (58)10.1186/1476-4598-12-58
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jeff Smaill, Michael Hay, Adam Patterson, Glenn Bell

Contact details

Primary office location

M&HS BUILDING 504 - Bldg 504
Level 0, Room 002
New Zealand