About Us

Colleen Nelson AM

Colleen Nelson AM


  • Executive Director, APCRC-Q
  • Professor and Chair of Prostate Cancer Research, IHBI, School of Biomedical Sciences, QUT
  • Cancer Program Leader, IHBI, QUT
  • Director, Prostate Cancer Collaborative Research Alliance
  • Queensland Smart Futures Premier’s Fellow
  • Diamantina Health Partners Prostate Cancer Stream Leader
  • Chair, Movember Global Scientific Committee
  • Adjunct Appointments
  • Department of Urologic Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia
  • Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery (GRIDD), Griffith University

Contact Details

+61 7 31767443


  • BSc w/Honours, Biochemistry, University of Wyoming, 1985
  • Ph.D, Cell Biology, Adenovirus Gene Expression in F9 Embryonal Carcinoma Cells, Australian National University, John Curtin School of Medical Research, 1990


Professor Colleen Nelson is the Founder and Executive Director of the Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre - Queensland (APCRC-Q) and Chair of Prostate Cancer Research at Queensland University of Technology (QUT).  The Centre, based at the Translational Research Institute and the Princess Alexandra Hospital, spans the spectrum of discovery of new therapeutic targets and their preclinical and clinical development.

Prof Nelson’s expertise is in translational prostate cancer research, specifically in identification of potential therapeutic targets, their in vitro and in vivo validation, clinical validation through molecular pathology approaches, and their translation into potential clinical application. These outcomes are derived from her expertise in high throughput applications in microarray gene expression, gene regulation, animal models, prostate cancer, steroid hormones, molecular endocrinology, and targeted therapeutics.

Prof Nelson has more than 25 years of experience in prostate cancer research with a specific focus on the function of androgens in prostate cancer, the molecular, cellular and systemic effects of androgen deprivation therapy and mechanisms underlying progression toward castrate resistance prostate cancer.

Her laboratory made the seminal discovery that castrate resistant prostate tumours can synthesize their own androgens de novo from cholesterol.  Recently, these findings have been extended to investigate the inter-relationships of androgen synthesis, prostate cancer progression, and metabolic syndrome.

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Prof Nelson is also Founder and Director of the Prostate Cancer Collaborative Alliance (formerly known as the Australian-Canadian Prostate Cancer Research Alliance), with the aim of facilitating collaboration between laboratory and clinician scientists in an interactive collaborative international network. The Alliance currently comprises over 305 prostate cancer scientists and clinicians in Australia and Canada and facilitates access to state-of-the-art infrastructure, resources, and clinical trials and assists in the translation of a wide range of discoveries in both countries.

Since arriving in Australia in 2007, Prof Nelson has been awarded more than AU$51 million in research grants, including the prestigious Queensland Government Smart Futures Premier’s Fellowship in 2009.

Prof Nelson is Chair of the Translational Research Institute (TRI) Research Committee and a member of the TRI Caucus.  She has also been appointed the Prostate Cancer Stream Leader within Diamantina Health Partners’ Comprehensive Cancer Centre.

Prior to her appointment in Australia, Prof Nelson was a founding scientist of the Vancouver Prostate Centre, a National Centre of Excellence in Research and Commercialization. Over the past decade she has worked in close collaboration with Dr Martin Gleave, Director of the Vancouver Prostate Centre.  During that period, Prof Nelson was awarded research grants in excess of $100 million from most of the key biomedical funding agencies and industry in North America for peer-reviewed operating funds and establishment of state-of-the-art research facilities.

Intellectual property from Prof Nelson’s research has been licensed from University of British Columbia to OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals, a Vancouver-based biotechnology company. The lead agents are now in Phase II and Phase III clinical trials in North America. Prof Nelson has been on a number of Strategic and Scientific Advisory Boards and was the inaugural Director of the Microarray Platform for Genome Canada from 2000 to 2009.

In 2010, Prof Nelson was appointed to the Movember Foundation’s Board of Directors and serves as the Chair of Movember’s Global Scientific Committee. This committee leads Movember’s Global Action Plan initiative to accelerate key outcomes in prostate cancer research by facilitating global research collaboration projects.

Prof Nelson has been the Chair of the Canadian Prostate Cancer Research Initiative and now serves as an International Strategic Advisor for Prostate Cancer Canada.  Since arriving in Australia, she has joined the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Australia New Zealand Urogenital Prostate Clinical Trials Group and chairs the Correlative and Translational Research Subcommittee.

Prof Nelson works closely with the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. She has been a co-organiser of their international conferences and assists in their fund raising activities. She is passionate about prostate cancer advocacy and regularly disseminates information to community organisations, including prostate cancer support groups.

Prof Nelson played a key role in helping to establish the first multi-disciplinary team (MDT) clinic for advanced prostate cancer in Australia – the linked MDT Prostate Cancer Trials Unit.

Awards and grants



Queensland Women in Technology, Life Sciences Outstanding Award


Queensland Smart Futures Premier's Fellow


Senior Faculty Scholar, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research


 Canadian Institutes of Health Research Faculty Scholar (ranked 2nd in  Canada)


NCIC Senior Research Fellowship Award


Centennial Medical Research Council Fellow, Canada


Senior Research Fellowship, National Cancer Institute of Canada (top applicant)


Grants awarded to Prof Nelson in Australia are listed below. Grants awarded in North America are not listed.

2016-2018 NHMRC Project Grant Targeting a master regulator of tumour cell plasticity as a new adjuvant therapy for prostate cancer

C Nelson, B Hollier, M Gleave, M Lehman

2016 PA Research Foundation NHMRC Near Miss Grant
Analysis of treatment response in metastatic prostate cancer using circulating tumours cells from longitudinal clinical trials and novel patient-derived organoids in culture.

C Nelson, M Lehman, I Vela, N Corcoran

2016 PA Research Support Scheme Spirit Group New Concept Grant Investigating the biological response to stereotactic radiation in oligometastatic prostate cancer in mouse intra-tibial human prostate cancer models

C Nelson, D Pryor, M Lehman, E Williams, A Fielding

2015-2017 NHMRC Development Grant Novel prostate cancer target for diagnosis, imaging, detection of recurrence and response to therapy

C Nelson, P Russell, B Walsh, D Campbell

2015-2016 Cancer Council Queensland  Development of Yb-1 as a therapeutic target in advanced prostate cancer

C Nelson

2015-2017 Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia / Movember Foundation Movember Revolutionary Team Award 3: Exploiting alterations in lipid metabolism to improve diagnosis, treatment and molecular imaging of prostate cancer.

L Butler (PI), Collaborators: W Tilley, A Hoy, G Wittert, C Nelson, A Scott, J Swinnen, A Weickhardt, I Davis, C Power, T Bianco-Miotto, P Russell, D Brooks, P Sutherland, F Parnis.

2014-2018 Movember Foundation TruNorth Network Health Services Delivery and Evaluation Program: A pilot study to assess the feasibility of an integrated survivorship intervention to improve patient and service level outcomes for men with prostate cancer

P Yates, R Carter, A McCarthy, K Alexander, C Nelson

2014-2017 Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia Movember Revolutionary Team Award

CIs: C Nelson, M Dinger, M Lehman, E Williams, A Herington, J Holst, R Quinn, D Hutmacher, J O'Leary, J Clements

Co-Is: P Russell, B Hollier, M Sadowski, P Ling, K O'Byrne, I Vela, D Richard, M Cowley, G Buchanan, E Need, W Tilley, L Butler, G Risbridger, D Lloyd, T Grkovic, K Wang, J Wade, A Hossain, R Bathgate, S Finn, D Fayne, M Gleave, YZ Wang, R Buttyan, P Rennie, A Cherkasov, L Otvos

2014-2016 Movember Foundation Prostate Cancer Outcomes Registry-Queensland, PCOR-QLD (Formerly Australian Prostate Cancer Clinical Registry - Queensland node) CIs: C Nelson, D Pryor (Chair), S Antoniou S Bandi, S Bourne, J Clements, G Coughlin TG Gleeson, K Gogna, S Greenslade, K Hazratwala, P Heathcote, M Janda, M Kimlin, G Lampe, M Lehman, J MacKean, J Paterdis, A Tan, HS, Teng, C Tracey, C Vernon, A Wagholikar, E Walpole, S Wood, P Yates
2014-2015 Princess Alexandra Hospital (PA) Research Support Scheme Spirit Group Project Grant and a pharmaceutical company Randomised control trial to evaluate the prognostic and metabolic benefits of metformin during androgen deprivation therapy in metastatic prostate cancer (ADMET)

C Nelson, B Hollier, J Gunter, S Wood, K Ho, J O'Leary, P Heathcote

2014-2015 Cancer Council Queensland KLK4 is a key regulator of the reactive stromal microenvironment in prostate cancer

CIs: J Clements, C Nelson, G Risbridger, J Gorman, J Perry-Keene, J Harris

Co-Is: M Lehman, O Kleifeld, R Taylor

2014-2015 Cancer Council Queensland Characterising insulin signaling in androgen-deprived prostate cancer cells

CIs: C Nelson, J Gunter, K Ho, B Hollier, S Finn, J O'Leary

Co-Is: E McCaffrey, M Lehman, M Pollak, S Wood

2014-2015 Princess Alexandra Research Foundation It's A Blokes Thing Prostate Cancer Research Grant Targeting leptin in prostate cancer progression; linking metabolic dysfunction and castrate resistance CIs: C Nelson, E Williams, B Hollier, J Gunter, M Sadowski, L Otvos, J O'Leary
2014-2015 Movember Global Action Plan 1 Xenografting Project CIs: E Williams, P Russell, C Nelson
2014-2015 Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation Evaluation of Prostate-specific Membrane Antigen Based PET and MRI for the detection of multiple cancer foci in localized prostate cancer patients

CIs: P Heathcote, P Thomas, S Wood, S Greenslade, G Lampe, B Shepherd, C Nelson, P Russell

Co-Is: H Rhee

2014-2015 Cancer Australia miSNPs as novel diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for prostate cancer

CIs: J Batra, J Clements, A Spurdle

Co-Is: C Nelson, J Lai, L Selth, M Lehman, R Webb, R Eeles

2014 Princess Alexandra Research Foundation Spirit Group Prostate Cancer Research Grant Pilot study to evaluate the prognostic and metabolic benefits of metformin during androgen deprivation therapy in metastatic prostate cancer CIs: C Nelson, B Hollier, J Gunter, S Wood, K Ho

Australian Research Council

Linkage, Infrastructure and Equipment Grant

Regional NMR infrastructure network for South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales CIs: R Quinn, T Grkovic, J Wilson, M von Itzstein, S-A Poulsen, R Wellard, K Mullen, S Bottle, H-Y Zhu, C Nelson, B Greatrex, C Fellows, M Taylor, D Keddie, B Wilson, S Cummins, K Mounsey, J Macdonald, D McMillan, K Benkendorff, G King, R Bush, L Sullivan
2013-2017 Australian Government Department of Health Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre - Queensland CIs: C Nelson, J Clements, P Russell, E Williams, A Herington, L Chopin, D Richard, SA Stephenson, N Graves, P Yates, A Wagholikar, S Wood, P Ling, D Hutmacher, M Doran 
2013-2014 Movember Global Action Plan 1 Exosomes biomarker project

 CIs: P Russell, C Nelson, C Soekmadji

2013-2014 Movember Global Action Plan 1 Circulating Tumour Cells biomarker project

CIs: C Nelson


2012-2014 National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant To study how prostate tumour metastasizes to bone CIs: P Ling, J Clements, C Nelson
Co-Is: PJ Russell, D Hutmacher
2012-2014 National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant To identify a new therapeutic target for the treatment of prostate cancer

CIs: P Ling, R Quinn, PJ Russell

Co-I: C Nelson
2011 Australian Research Council LIEF Grant Comprehensive Cell Imaging Facility

CI: J Clements

Co-I: N McMillan, J Whitehead, K Beagley, P Russell, C Nelson, D Hutmacher, et al.
2011-2012 PCFA Project Grant Identification of RNA species regulated by YB1 and G3BPs in prostate cancer cells

PI: C Nelson

Co-I: D Kennedy, A Rockstroh
2011-2013 PCFA Project Grant PSA as a therapeutic target: an integrated systems biology approach to discover the pathways initiated by PSA activity in prostate cancer

PI: J Clements

Co-I: C Overall, J Gorman, D
2011-2013 National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant KLK4 is a master regulator of tumour microenvironment remodelling in prostate cancer and bone metastasis

PI: J Clements

Co-I: C Nelson, D Hutmacher, P Russell, C Overall, J Gorman, J Harris
2010-2013 PCFA/Cancer Australia Priority Driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme Mechanisms of abiterone resistance in prostate cancer

PI: ID Davis,

Co-I: G Risbridger,  C Nelson, R Taylor, P Mainwaring, J Pedersen, D Clouston, P Sluka

2010-2013 Queensland State Government Smart Future Fund National and International Research Alliance Program A Queensland/British Columbia Drug Discovery Alliance

PI: R Quinn

Co-I: C Nelson, M Gleave, P Ciulis

2010-2011 Cancer Council Queensland S-allylmercaptocysteine as an adjuvant therapy in the treatment of prostate cancer.

PI: C Nelson

Co-I: P Ling
2010-2011 Cancer Council Queensland Understanding the functional role of KLK4 in prostate cancer progression: an integrated systems biology approach.

PI: J Clements

Co-I: D Hutmacher, C Nelson, P Russell, et al

2010 PCFA Equipment grant Agilent Bravo Automated Liquid Handler

PI: R Quinn

Co-I: C Nelson, D Camp

2010 Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia Application for a Syngene G: Box Chemi XT Unit (Equipment Grant)

PI: P Russell

Co-I: J Clements, C Nelson, A Herington, J Hooper, J Harris, SA Stephenson, et al.

2009-2013 Department of Health and Ageing Establishment of the Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre - Queensland

PI: C Nelson

CI:  J Clements

2009-2013 Australasian Urological Foundation The role of the transcription factors PITX2 (paired-like homeodomain) and YB-1 (Y-box binding protein 1) in metastatic prostate cancer and possible therapeutic implications PI: M Pokorny  Supervisor: C Nelson
2009-2013 Queensland State Government Smart Future Premier's Fellowship Development of new therapeutic approaches for prostate cancer progression—dissecting the effects of diabetes and obesity in cancer progression PI: C Nelson
2009-2011 Queensland State Government National and International Research Alliance Program Australian-Canadian Prostate Cancer Research Alliance

PI: C Nelson

Co-I: J Clements, M Gleave

2009 Australian Cancer Research Foundation Comprehensive Cancer Genomics Facility

CI: T Gonda

Co-Is: C Nelson, I Frazer, M Brown, N Saunders

2009 Australian Research Council - Linkage, Equipment, Infrastructure and Facilities Multiphoton microscopy of living animals as a tool for immunology and cancer research

PI: I Frazer

Co-Is: C Nelson, R Steptoe, G Monteith, M Brown, N McMillan,  R Thomas

Research interests

Gene regulation, animal models, prostate cancer, steroid hormones, molecular endocrinology, high-throughput gene expression, and targeted therapeutics, androgen action and the effects of androgen deprivation

Current research projects

  • Determining the role of hyperinsulinaemia induced by androgen deprivation therapy in prostate cancer progression
  • Targeting leptin in prostate cancer progression; linking metabolic dysfunction and castrate resistance
  • Pilot study to evaluate the prognostic and metabolic benefits of metformin during androgen deprivation therapy in metastatic prostate cancer
  • Evaluation of Prostate-specific Membrane Antigen Based PET and MRI for the detection of multiple cancer foci in localized prostate cancer patients
  • Novel mechanism of transcriptional regulation by androgens in prostate cancer via multi-tasking genomic loci
  • Exosome biomarker for prognosis of recurrent prostate cancer and drug resistance
  • Abiraterone acetate compared to GnRH antagonist and combination for salvage therapy for rising PSA with or without nodal disease after radical prostatectomy
  • KLK4 is a master regulator of tumour microenvironment remodelling in prostate cancer and bone metastasis
  • Establishment of the Australian Prostate Cancer Clinical Registry - Queensland node

Top publications

  • Wang Q, Tiffen J, Bailey CG, Lehman ML, Ritchie W, Fazli L, Metierre C, Feng Y, Li E, Gleave M, Buchanan G, Nelson CC, Rasko JEJ and Holst J. Targeting Amino Acid Transport in Metastatic Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer Suppresses Cell Cycle, Cell Growth and Tumor Development. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2013 Oct 2;105(19):1463-1473. Epub 2013 Sep 19.
  • Wang Q, Bailey CG, Ng C, Tiffen J, Thoeng A, Minhas V, Lehman ML, Hendy SC, Buchanan G, Nelson CC, Rasko JEJ, Holst J. Androgen receptor and nutrient signalling pathways coordinate the demand for increased amino acid transport in prostate cancer progression. Cancer Research. Published Online. 2011; 17, CAN-11-1821R
  • Lubik AA, Gunter JH, Hendy SC, Locke JA, Adomat HA, Thompson V, Herington A, Gleave ME, Pollak M, Nelson CC. Insulin increases steroidogenesis in LNCaP prostate cancer cells.  Cancer Research. 2011; 71:5754-64.
  • Lai J, Lehman M, Hendy S, Mattick J, Clements JA. Nelson CC. A Variant of the KLK4 Gene is expressed as a Cis Sense-Antisense Chimeric Transcript in Prostate Cancer Cells. RNA. RNA. 2010; 16(6):1156-66 PMID: 20406994
  • Locke JA, Tomlinson Guns ES, Lehman ML, Ettinger S, Zoubedi A, Lubik A, Margiotti K, Fazli L, Adomat HA, Wasan KM, Gleave ME, Nelson CC. Arachidonic acid activation of intratumoral steroid synthesis during prostate cancer progression to castration-resistance. Prostate. 2009; 70(3):239-51. PMID: 19790237]
  • Locke JA, Guns ES, Lubik AA, Adomat HH, Hendy SC, Wood CA, Ettinger SL, Gleave ME, Nelson CC.  Androgen Levels Increase by Intratumoral de novo Steroidogenesis during Progression of Castrate Resistant Prostate Cancer.  Cancer Research. 2008; 1:68(15):6407-15. IF 7.672
  • Zoubeidi A, Zardan A, Beraldi E, Fazli L, Sowery R, Rennie P, Nelson C, Gleave M.  Cooperative interactions between androgen receptor (AR) and heat-shock protein 27 facilitate AR transcriptional activity.  Cancer Research. 2007; 67(21):10455-65.  IF 7.672
More publications are available on PubMed



  • Dr Martin Gleave, Executive Director, Vancouver Prostate Centre
  • Dr Paul Rennie, Director of Laboratory Research, Vancouver Prostate Centre
  • Prof Ron Quinn, Director, Eskitis Institute for Cell and Molecular Therapies, Griffith University

Professional memberships and associations


2010 -  

Director, Movember Board

2011 -   

Director, Rick Hansen Institute Board

Scholarly Societies

1997 -

Active Member, American Association for Cancer Research


Member, Inaugural Research Advisory Council, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research

2002 -

Member, Endocrine Society, USA


Vice-Chair, Scientific and Medical Advisory Board, Prostate Cancer Research Foundation of Canada


Regular Member, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

2007 -

Member, Endocrine Society, USA

2007 -

Member Endocrine Society of Australia

2008 -

Member, Ausbiotech

2008 -

Corporate Member, Queensland Clinical Trials Network

2009 -

International Strategic Advisor, Prostate Cancer Canada

2010 -

Member, American Society of Clinical Oncology



Scientific Advisory Board: Inphogene Bioinformatics


International Council of Advisors, Gerson Lehrman Group


Scientific Advisory Board: Molecular Templates


Scientific Advisory Board: OncoGenex


Advisor: World Congress on Microarray Technology


Queensland Government North American Partnerships


Queensland Government Precinct Development


Queensland Government, Developing Smarter Communities


Task Force, Queensland Biotech


Advisor, TRX10/ Queensland Clinical Trials Network


Canadian Australian Chamber of Commerce


Lifesciences and Biotech Queensland


Movember- Global Initiatives

Service to Hospitals


Department of Surgery Head Selection Committee, University of British Columbia and Vancouver General Hospital


Rick Hansen Institute, iCORD, Strategic Planning Committee for Spinal Cord Research, UBC, VGH