Member Spotlight: Katie Benton

Katie Benton is a dietitian specialising in cancer nutrition. She is a member of the AGITG Upper GI Working Party and the Scientific Advisory Committee. In her role with the AGITG she has presented at Annual Scientific Meetings with fellow dietitian Belinda Steer on areas of research in Upper GI cancer, and how to include nutrition in AGITG trials. They have also contributed to information for patients and consumers around the best nutrition for cancer patients.

How did you first get involved with AGITG?

I was asked by Professor Andrew Barbour to join the Upper GI Working Party as part of the AGITG strategic activities to foster multidisciplinary collaborations. Both Belinda Steer (a dietitian from Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre) and I  joined in 2016.

You have been involved with a number of AGITG trials providing feedback from a dietitian’s perspective. Are there any highlights from your time working with the AGITG?

It has been rewarding to participate and contribute to research concepts and advocate for nutrition to be included into research and trials. Currently Belinda and I have been working on a substudy, RANDOMS, looking at nutrition measures in pancreatic cancer as part of the MASTERPLAN study. It has been rewarding working with medical and research professionals from across Australia. I also enjoy providing evidenced based nutrition information and recipes for the newsletters and website.

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

There is a growing body of work and interest in the identification of biomarkers to answer specific questions, which I think holds a lot of promise. In regards to nutrition research, the microbiome is a moveable feast in many disease states including cancer although the evidence in this area is still growing. I believe it will provide some key insights and answers in the future, especially in regards to targeted therapies and dietary interventions.

What are your hopes for the AGITG over the next few years?

Ongoing growth and community support. From an allied health perspective it would be great to work towards an Allied Health Working Party (including specialists from a variety of disciplines e.g. exercise physiologists) to contribute to the development of research study designs and outcome measures.

You have contributed to the AGITG’s work as a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee. Why did you decide to take on this role?

I was invited to become a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee as I believe it is very important to get involved and advocate for nutrition, given the role nutrition plays in treatment.

How would you encourage other AGITG members to get actively involved?

Understanding your role and how you can contribute regardless of if this is a little or a lot. Everyone brings their own wealth of knowledge and skills which can contribute to bigger ideas, projects and concepts. AGITG is a very supportive and collaborative organisation – there is no better reason to get involved.

What do you do for fun?

I am in love with the ocean. Living in sunny Queensland I am always either in the ocean swimming, surfing, stand up paddle boarding, or I am on the sand, sleeping or reading.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown: A book on courage, vulnerability and how it can transform the way we live, love and lead.

Who have been your mentors or inspired you?

I have had many mentors and people who inspired me, from dietitian Research Fellows, Directors to students. Anyone who has the willingness to follow their dreams, think outside the box and strive for improving the health and wellbeing of others.