Dr Julia Freckelton named 2024 Merck–AGITG Clinical Research Fellow


We are proud to announce that the 2024 Merck–AGITG Clinical Research Fellowship in GI Cancer has been awarded to Dr Julia Freckelton.

Dr Freckelton is an advanced trainee who remains actively involved in GI cancer research following the completion of her PhD in 2018. As the recipient of the fellowship, she will be spending one year at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, UK, known to be the busiest GI cancer clinic in the country.

“My interest in GI oncology began when I did a PhD in pancreatic cancer and outcomes for patients with the disease,” said Dr Freckelton.

“Since that time I’ve had the opportunity to work in some really great oncology units, both through basic training and then in my time during oncology training.”

She has also consistently published in the areas of GI oncology and treatment toxicities, with an interest in chemotherapy-related outcomes, including how body composition affects patient outcomes.

“Body composition for cancer patients, particularly for patients with incurable cancer, is really central to their well-being for a number of reasons,” said Dr Freckelton.

“Firstly, we know that muscle mass and muscle quality impact their quality of life and the things that they’re able to do, but it also has really significant impacts on their outcomes from the cancer. Some of our research but also much of other research shows that patients with poor muscle quality and poor muscle mass are more likely to have treatment toxicity.

“This, again, really impacts their quality of life, but it also impacts what treatments they can tolerate and for how long, and so impacts their survival and their outcomes from their cancer as well.”

Managing Director of Merck Healthcare Australia and New Zealand, Ms Josie Downey, said, “Cancers affecting the digestive system are the most common forms of cancers and can have an enormous impact on the lives of Australians and New Zealanders. That’s why it is so rewarding to see Dr Julia Freckelton receive this year’s Fellowship.

“Merck is proud to foster scientific curiosity that improves the lives of people affected by gastro–intestinal cancers. We have a longstanding commitment to help people affected by colorectal cancer.

“By maximising the impact of our standard-of-care treatments and pioneering novel medicines, and supporting initiatives like this that help build knowledge, we are working to create a world where more cancer patients can become cancer survivors.”

Dr Freckelton has expressed her hopes to learn much from the fellowship, both to focus on her skills in the GI oncology area as well as to experience working in a different country’s healthcare system.

“I certainly hope to come back with some more skills and knowledge as a clinician oncologist, but also to develop skills in research and continue to participate in research – both domestically but also hopefully overseas.

“Thank you to Merck and AGITG for giving me this opportunity.”

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