Portrait photograph of a red-haired woman.

Member Spotlight: Associate Professor Marion Harris

Associate Professor Marion Harris is a medical oncologist working with GI and breast cancer and has been Director of the Familial Cancer Service (Cancer Genetics Service) at Monash Health, Melbourne, Victoria over the last 17 years.

She is Co-Chair to Dr Andrew Dean and Professor Tim Price on the randomised Phase 2 ASCEND study that is currently being undertaken by the AGITG.

We sat down with Marion as she shared with us career achievements, how she became involved in the AGITG and her favourite cuisine!

What inspired you to become an oncologist?

I wanted to try and help people and health is the most important issue in life. Oncology in particular offers the ability to try and cure people if possible and offer quality treatments, care and support where this is not possible.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Personally I am most proud of my two daughters who are 12 and 8 years old. Professionally being a co-author on the MPACT study for metastatic pancreatic cancer that changed standard treatment for this condition worldwide and was published in NEJM in 2013 was exciting.

Why did you become involved in the AGITG?

Working as an oncology registrar it was great to attend the annual AGITG conference to hear all the local and national studies being presented along with the latest international study data. Seeing GI patients in clinic means you want and need to join so that your patients can access new promising study treatments and at the same time provide study results that can inform oncology practice internationally.

Are there particular areas of GI cancer research that you believe hold most promise for the future?

Having just been involved as a site investigator for the DYNAMIC colon study led by Associate Professor Jeanne Tie and Professor Peter Gibbs, it seems that ctDNA can inform adjuvant therapy options as well as possibly guide metastatic treatments more accurately and sooner than imaging in standard clinical practice in future.

With the cheaper costs of germline and somatic tumour testing and their wider availability in clinical practice for a range of cancers, the discovery of more targets and targeted therapies for personalized cancer therapy holds great promise.

If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be?

I would have dinner with Watson and Crick to hear the story of how they determined/discovered the double helix structure of DNA. If they aren’t free I’d choose JK Rowling so she can tell me how she created the extraordinary storyline of her Harry Potter series.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Salmon risotto with chocolate pudding and vanilla ice cream.

What are your top three hobbies?

Reading historical fiction (as the past helps to predict the future), spending time with my kids and young nieces and nephews and… shopping!