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Talks with Docs: Adriana Coletta, Exercise and Cancer Researcher

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Adriana Coletta, PhD

Video transcript

I want to see Huntsman Cancer Institute as the model cancer institution nationwide for cancer rehab.

My name is Adriana Coletta. I'm an assistant professor in the department of health and kinesiology and in the division of cancer control and population sciences here at the Huntsman Cancer Institute

What clinical trial are you working on currently?

The trial that I'm super excited about is in metastatic prostate cancers. What I love about this trial is as a dietitian and an exercise physiologist, I can really marry both of these fields and help our cancer survivors make it through their treatment. One thing that I do specifically in this trial is I call all of our patients who are thinking about enrolling and I just tell them more about it. I love that connection that I get with the survivors when I can tell them about the science and answer all their questions and really help them make an informed decision as to whether or not it's the right trial for them at this time.

How did you become interested in researching exercise for people with cancer?

In my dietetic internship, I had the opportunity to do my clinical rotations and I just fell in love with patient care. I just loved being a part of that team and seeing how effective medical nutrition therapy can really help improve patient care. So, then I went back to school for my PhD full-time and that's when I fell in love with cancer and really saw a need for exercise and nutrition interventions and cancer survivors to help complement therapies and improve care. So, that's kind of what brought me to where I am today.

What are some things people might be surprised to learn about you?

I am Italian, big Italian family, so it's always lots of family around and cousins and our house was always the party house and the place to be. So, that was fun. I like to cook, maybe it's the Italian in me or the dietitian, and then to compensate for those behaviors because I like to eat, I like to exercise, which I guess is pretty cliché as a dietitian and exercise physiologist. I play the violin. I've been playing since I was seven and not many people know the musical side of me but I've traveled to Scotland to play and have been in many orchestras at one time.

Who would you trade lives with for a day?

You know, Hillary Clinton as secretary of state had all of these opportunities to learn and travel and meet people. So that, I think, would be amazing to get to meet the world leaders that she's been able to meet and have those conversations and just see and learn more that we don't know. That would be interesting. Part of the draw for me, as a woman in science and coming to HCI, was the women leadership. I think that speaks volumes for the diversity and leadership that we have here and it's refreshing to see such strong women in these powerful roles.

What does the future of cancer exercise research look like?

While at other institutions, trying to conduct exercise oncology research can be very challenging because it can be very hard to get buy-in from your physician colleagues to see the importance and benefits of exercise and nutrition and integrating that in patient care, here it's been the exact opposite. Everyone sees the benefits and everyone is very interested in being a part of this type of work. In the future, I hope that more of these innovative exercise and nutrition strategies will be included within the survivorship care plan to help with improving outcomes and helping overall quality of life and survival and especially I want to see Huntsman Cancer Institute as the model cancer institution nationwide for cancer rehab. I think that, you know, we have all the right ingredients here to be the leaders in this area and help with getting reimbursement for these nutrition and exercise services to be part of the care plan across the care continuum.

Cancer touches all of us.