In the early 1990s, breast cancer research in Europe was highly fragmented, with academic groups running many similar trials, but not yet interacting in a way to facilitate collaboration.
Dr Martine Piccart and Dr Aron Goldhirsch together shared a different vision for the future: groups debating the latest research findings, sharing ideas for new clinical trials and working in harmony to conduct those trials together. Based on this vision, they created BIG in 1996. BIG became a legal entity in 1999, and with infrastructure and other support provided by the Jules Bordet Institute in Brussels, was able to flourish.
While initially expected to address a critical need in Europe, the idea of BIG quickly attracted academic breast cancer collaborative groups working in other parts of the world: he Australian New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group (ANZ BCTG) has been involved from BIG’s very first days; the Japanese Breast Cancer Research Group (JBCRG) joined as early as 2004; groups from Latin America in 2006; and in recent years, BIG has attracted the attention of groups based in India, Pakistan and other parts of Asia.
Dr Aron Goldhirsch and Dr Martine Piccart sharing their vision of global breast cancer research (early 1990s).
Today BIG has the ability to unite under its umbrella the opinion leaders from over 50 countries who share a common vision about the optimal conduct of breast cancer research.