Australian & New Zealand Childrens Haematology/Oncology Group


Spotlight Series – Dr Jennifer Cohen

Dr. Jennifer Cohen
Evaluation Manager, Canteen
Senior Research Fellow, UNSW

Dr Cohen commenced her career as an adult oncology dietitian at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, but was fortunate to secure a joint clinical and research role in the Kids Cancer Centre at Sydney Children’s Hospital.

“I was so lucky – it is quite rare for allied health clinicians to have dedicated protected time to undertake research.  It is so rewarding to be able to identify clinical issues, and then gather evidence to support change in practice and policies. Through publishing and presenting this work, you can influence change in other Australian centres, and also world-wide.”

Jen has now moved into dedicated research roles, with appointments at the University of NSW and Canteen. Her primary project at UNSW is the Reboot Program, an online, parent-led intervention to improve fruit and vegetable intake in children early off cancer treatment.

“We were hearing so many parents saying that their children’s diet was not returning to their pre-treatment patterns, but it was largely anecdotal with limited evidence. My early work examined dietary patterns of children as they finished their cancer treatment and formed the evidence base for the Reboot Program.”

The Reboot Program is currently available as a clinical trial, recruiting parents of young children who have completed their cancer treatment, across a number of Australian centres. Excitingly, Jen is currently working with New Zealand researchers to adapt Reboot for New Zealand families. 

Jen also works in the Research, Evaluation and Social Policy Team at Canteen, where she evaluates a range of supportive care programs offered to 12-25 year olds impacted by cancer. “I really enjoy working in an environment where the research findings and improvements can be rapidly implemented and the benefits of these programs maximised.”

Jen believes that the role of supportive care to optimise patient outcomes is becoming more apparent and will be increasingly integrated throughout treatment and survivorship in the future.

“Research from outside the paediatric oncology space is showing that nutrition, physical activity and mental health all contribute significantly to a patient’s wellbeing and overall health. The interplay between these factors and their collective influence provides a real opportunity to maximise a holistic approach to paediatric oncology cancer care throughout the entire treatment and survivorship pathway.”

Below are the different health professionals and researchers we have shone a light on during September