Pfizer Awards Breast International Group (BIG) $1 Million Research Grant to Support Non-Drug Related Breast Cancer Research

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Brussels, Belgium – 9 March 2016 – The Breast International Group (BIG) is proud to announce that it has received a $1 million educational grant from Pfizer Inc. to support academic research in the field of breast cancer.

“As a not-for-profit organisation, BIG is of course thrilled with this grant of $1 million. It provides a welcome boost to our ability to further develop initial ideas we have for research that could have tremendous potential to benefit patients, but that does not involve testing specific drugs. Organisations such as Pfizer, through its generosity and commitment to support cancer research, enable us to move closer to our goal of finding cures for breast cancer and improving patients’ lives”, said Dr. Martine Piccart, co-founder and chair of the Breast International Group, Professor of Oncology at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and Director of Medicine at the Jules Bordet Institute, in Brussels, Belgium.  

“Pfizer Oncology is very pleased to support BIG, an organisation with a track record of innovative, high-quality research,” said Maria Koehler, MD, PhD, Vice President of Strategy, Innovation and Collaborations for Pfizer Oncology. “We are committed to supporting independent academic research to rapidly advance understandings in breast cancer, which will benefit everyone in the scientific community. Our goal is to accelerate the pace of discoveries that will most impact the lives of patients with breast cancer.”

Facts & Figures on Breast Cancer
• Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide and the second most common cancer overall (after skin cancer);
• The chance of a woman being diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime is 1 in 8;
• In 2012, there were 1.7 million women diagnosed with the disease;
• 1 in 3 breast cancers will become metastatic;
• Male breast cancer accounts for 1% of all breast cancers.

The Breast International Group (BIG) and clinical trials

A few years ago, BIG decided to direct its efforts towards research in advanced or metastatic breast cancer, as well as rarer forms of the disease, such as those driven by BRCA1/2 gene mutations. With little or inconclusive data available about optimal treatment options, it is difficult for physicians to choose the best treatment path for individual patients. In 2014, BIG launched AURORA, an ambitious molecular screening research programme aimed at understanding the aberrations driving breast cancer metastasis, and defining which tumours are most likely to respond well to particular treatments. AURORA is supported entirely by charitable donations.

Several BIG studies have been practice-changing, putting aromatase inhibitors on the map (BIG 1-98), changing the way we treat young women with breast cancer (SOFT), or leading to a major breakthrough in treating HER2-positive breast cancer (HERA). BIG is also anxiously awaiting the results of the MINDACT trial, run by the EORTC (European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer) under the BIG umbrella, which, hopefully, will give a clear view on whether the use of a gene signature in addition to standard pathological tests can help determine which women with node-negative and 1-to-3 node positive breast cancer may avoid chemotherapy.


About BIG against breast cancer

The Breast International Group (BIG) is an international not-for-profit organisation for academic breast cancer research groups from around the world, based in Brussels, Belgium.

Global collaboration is crucial to make significant advances in breast cancer research, reduce unnecessary duplication of effort, share data, contribute to the faster development of better treatments, and increase the likelihood of cures for patients. Therefore BIG facilitates breast cancer research at international level, by stimulating cooperation between its members and other academic networks, and collaborating with, but working independently from, the pharmaceutical industry.

Founded by leading European opinion leaders in 1999, BIG now constitutes a network of 56 collaborative groups from Europe, Canada, Latin America, Asia and Australasia. These entities are tied to several thousand specialised hospitals and research centres worldwide. More than 30 clinical trials are run or are under development under the BIG umbrella at any one time. BIG also works closely with the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the North American Breast Cancer Groups (NABCG), so that together they act as a strong integrating force in the breast cancer research arena.

About Pfizer Oncology

Pfizer Oncology is committed to the discovery, investigation and development of innovative treatment options to improve the outlook for patients worldwide. Our strong pipeline of biologics and small molecules, one of the most robust in the industry, is studied with precise focus on identifying and translating the best scientific breakthroughs into clinical application for patients across a wide range of cancers. By researchers, cooperative research groups, governments, and licensing partners, Pfizer Oncology strives to cure or control cancer with breakthrough medicines, to deliver the right drug for each patient at the right time. For more information, please visit


Note to the editor – not for publication:
For more information on this press release, for additional background information on BIG and/or its clinical trials, or for an interview with a spokesperson from BIG, please contact:
Breast International Group Communications Team :

  • Valerie Van der Veeken:
  • Oriana Spagnolo:            

    Tel.: +32 2 541 3524

Should you wish to speak to someone from Pfizer, please contact:
Lisa O’Neill
Pfizer Global Media Relations, Europe, Middle East & Africa 
Mobile: +44 7929 339 560
E-mail: lisa.o'