BIG’s new Executive Board

New executive board of the collaborative breast international group
The Breast International Group (BIG), the largest international not-for-profit organisation for academic breast cancer research groups from around the world, is pleased to announce its new Executive Board who commenced work on 11 June 2021.

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BIG’s Executive Board consists of 14 individuals chosen from amongst its member groups, and embodies a broad range of cancer expertise such as medical oncology, surgical oncology, radiation oncology, biostatistics and clinical trials methodology, and translational research. From a geographic point of view, BIG constitutes a network of over 50 like-minded research groups from around the world and reaches across approximately 70 countries on 6 continents. Through its network of groups, BIG connects several thousand specialised hospitals, research centres and world-class breast cancer experts who collaborate to design and conduct pioneering breast cancer research.

Since its foundation in 1999, BIG has run over 50 clinical trials under its umbrella, several of which are considered practice-changing landmark studies, such as the HERA (BIG 1-01) and MINDACT (BIG 3-04) studies. HERA’s main results have been published in prestigious journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine (2005) en The Lancet (2017). The primary results of MINDACT were published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2016). More recently, the OlympiA (BIG 6-13) study reported significant results associated with olaparib to prevent cancer recurrence in women with hereditary breast cancer triggered by the BRCA1 and 2 genes, which was also published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2021).

More than 30 clinical trials are run or are under development under the BIG umbrella at any time.

BIG’s leadership authority

BIG’s Executive Board, chaired by Professor David Cameron and supported by BIG Headquarters in Brussels (Belgium), is BIG’s main scientific authority. As of 11 June 2021, the BIG Executive Board is represented by the following world-class breast cancer specialists:

BIG’s Executive Board represents the leadership of the organisation, reporting to the General Assembly of all member groups. It is primarily responsible for proposing, shaping, and reviewing BIG’s strategies and related objectives, and for ensuring the long-term viability of the association.

BIG as a network designs and conducts its own research. The role of the BIG Executive Board is critical to ensure that all clinical trials and programmes carried out under the BIG umbrella are run according to BIG’s mission and principles of research conduct and that they fall within BIG’s strategy. These principles aim to eliminate bias from the research process, protect academic freedom, and maintain integrity vis à vis patients, both when working with the pharmaceutical partners or when working alone. Particularly important is that BIG commits to prioritising research that otherwise would not be possible and cannot be done by one research group alone.  Within this framework, BIG conducts research to advance treatments that make a real difference to women and men with breast cancer.

Professor David Cameron, BIG Chair: “BIG recognises that the ‘global cancer problem’ has particularities in each region and country. I’m delighted by the composition of the new Executive Board – I’m confident that this talented, multi-national and multi-disciplinary group of people will further develop the important advances already set into motion in recent years. In the years to come, the BIG network aims to continue to play an important role in international breast cancer research, allowing for the most efficient conduct of clinical trials and always keeping patients’ interests at the heart of its activities. Further collaboration with research groups in countries where research is scarcer and availability of innovative trials is rarer could be a significant step towards improving treatment and care for women and men with breast cancer, wherever they live.”

And he continues: “Finally, I would like to take this moment to make a special mention of Professor Angelo Di Leo (Head of the Sandro Pitigliani Medical Oncology Department at the Hospital of Prato, Italy) who tragically passed away on 12 June. As a member of BIG since the beginning, and of BIG’s Executive Board since 2010, he contributed to many of BIG’s major trials and research programmes. He also served as a key member of the Scientific and Executive Committee of the International Breast Cancer Study Group (IBCSG). Professor Di Leo was a true defender of academic research and international collaboration. He will be missed by all of us, his family and patients.”

BIG’s vision and mission statement
The Breast International Group (BIG) is an independent, international not-for-profit umbrella organisation for academic breast cancer research groups from around the world. We expect our members to share the principle of conducting breast cancer research that is scientifically independent and not motivated by personal profit, meaning that any surplus from BIG’s or its member groups’ research must be reinvested into breast cancer research. BIG’s vision is to cure breast cancer through global research and collaboration; its mission is to facilitate breast cancer research internationally.

BIG provides a forum for its member groups to:

  • combine resources and expertise to conduct research to advance knowledge of the disease and to optimally serve patients;
  • prioriteiten voor klinisch en translationeel onderzoek bepalen
  • reduce the unnecessary duplication of efforts;
  • obtain study results quickly;
  • collaborate with other scientific networks;
  • samenwerkingsmodellen ontwikkelen met de farmaceutische en de biotechnologische industrie waarbij de wetenschappelijke onafhankelijkheid behouden blijft.

BIG’s strategy statement
Wij geloven dat we remedies voor borstkanker kunnen ontwikkelen door wereldwijd onderzoek en samenwerking. Onze missie is dan ook om academisch onderzoek naar borstkanker op internationaal niveau te faciliteren en sneller te doen verlopen, en dit door groepen de mogelijkheid te bieden om meer te doen dan hun individuele bijdrage.

BIG verbindt zich ertoe prioriteit te geven aan onderzoek dat anders niet mogelijk zou zijn, en dat niet door één onderzoeksgroep alleen kan worden verricht, door:

  • te beschikken over een netwerk van samenwerkende onderzoeksgroepen en datacentra, vertegenwoordigd door hun individuele leden en wereldexperts op het gebied van onderzoek naar borstkanker
  • deze personen samen te brengen voor het bespreken, prioriteren en samen uitvoeren van klinische studies en onderzoeksprogramma's die kunnen helpen bij de aanpak van de onvervulde noden van mensen met borstkanker, zonder daarbij onnodige dubbele inspanningen te leveren
  • werkgroepen en taskforces aan te duiden om nieuwe onderzoeksideeën te ontwikkelen die enkel binnen een netwerk zoals dat van BIG op touw kunnen worden gezet
  • de toegang mogelijk te maken tot biosamples en gegevens die zijn verzameld in het kader van BIG-studies voor het verrichten van translationeel onderzoek, met het oog op de optimalisatie van geïndividualiseerde diagnose en behandeling
  • providing a headquarters with trained and qualified staff who: work closely with BIG members to plan, develop and run BIG studies and translational research; and provide support in various forms, ranging from scientific input to legal advice, communications, fundraising, and the organisation of meetings and other events for BIG members and partners
  • te werken volgens specifieke onderzoeksprincipes die de academische vrijheid vrijwaren, zelfs wanneer we samenwerken met commerciële entiteiten.

Dankzij dit kader kan het BIG-netwerk goed gedijen en onderzoek verrichten dat als doel heeft betere behandelingen te vinden die een reële impact hebben op het leven van vrouwen en mannen met borstkanker

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Professor Aron Goldhirsch, breast cancer expert and founder of BIG

Professor Aron Goldhirsch

In February 2020, the world of oncology lost one of its most brilliant medical doctors and breast cancer researchers. Professor Aron Goldhirsch, the “father” of