A paper was recently published in the ASCO Educational Book entitled “Overcoming Barriers to Clinical Trials Cooperation: The Breast International Group Example”. In this article, Professors Martine Piccart and David Cameron, respectfully Immediate Past Chair and Chair of BIG, together with BIG’s CEO Theodora Goulioti and Deputy CEO / Research Support Director Carolyn Straehle, describe the main challenges faced by BIG’s leadership since its creation to set up and maintain international cooperation in breast cancer research and provide suggestions to overcome them.
The landscape of clinical trial research has changed drastically in the last few decades. With the use of novel sequencing technologies and our knowledge of the genomic complexity of tumours getting more and more precise, the target population for each clinical trial is also smaller. Hence, to test new treatments with enough patients to be confident about the results, clinical research should not be limited to one institution, or even one country.
The single strongest opportunity for success comes from combining resources and multi-disciplinary expertise from around the globe to establish research priorities, improve collaboration, and reduce unnecessary duplication of effort to generate results more quickly. A network like BIG, uniting over 50 academic research groups from approximately 70 countries worldwide, can bring together the global expertise and reach to perform the large, collaborative trials that are needed to answer questions that will ultimately improve patients’ lives.
In its 21 years of existence, BIG has of course been confronted with a number of challenges. In this paper, authors describe how they attempted to solve them, with the hope of providing a useful roadmap for the next generation of clinical investigators who are interested in the setup and the running of umbrella networks of cooperative groups.