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Meet the new BIG HQ staff members

Intro text: 

Reflecting the global outreach of BIG, whose 56 academic Members Groups represent the largest international network dedicated to breast cancer research, BIG Headquarters consists of over 30 dynamic, passionate and committed people originating from all parts of the world/coming from all horizons. BIG is proud of this enriching multi-cultural environment that is the cornerstone of international collaboration.

Let us welcome and introduce you to our new team members! 

Katrien Delobelle – Quality Manager

Katrien Delobelle is a dynamic woman and mother of three, with a degree in bioengineering and extensive experience in clinical research. She is very enthusiastic about working for the BIG network and advancing breast cancer research. Katrien joined BIG Headquarters end of 2016 after holding different roles in clinical operations over the years for pharmaceutical companies such as Roussel Uclaf, UCB, Bristol Myers Squibb, ThromboGenics and Celyad. She is equipped with several years of experience in managing the operations of phase II and III clinical trials.

“This huge network of academic centers collaborating together as a group of groups to conduct breast cancer studies is a great initiative. I’m inspired by the motivation and passion of the teams working through BIG, where we all facilitate – in our different roles – the development of new breast cancer treatments.”

As BIG HQ’s Quality Manager, her main role is to improve and maintain BIG’s quality management system, which consists of a set of policies, standard operating procedures and related documents – as well as training modules – to support the activities of BIG Headquarters, especially the teams directly involved in clinical studies.
“I’m proud and pleased to contribute, although indirectly, to the development of better treatments for patients with breast cancer.” she says. “By maintaining and improving our quality management system, my aim is to reinforce BIG’s reputation as a respected and professional organisation for academic and pharmaceutical partners.”

Outside the office you can find Katrien hiking in nature with her friends or family. Her preferred way of taking holidays is taking hiking trips in the mountains. She also enjoys very much singing together with others, and being part of a small choir.  

Her life motto: Enjoy the simple things!

Mihaela Sicoe – Project Manager

Ten years ago, after completing her journalism and law studies, Mihaela worked as a news presenter in Bucharest, Romania. She then followed her future husband to Belgium and found a job as a project manager in a company doing Quality Assurance in radiotherapy, where she stayed for more than 9 years. Realizing that she would like learn more and looking for a new challenge, Mihaela finally joined BIG as a project manager. Her main responsibilities include the management of the ALTTO and NeoALTTO studies as well as the PALLAS trial.

“I’m pleased to be a small part of the global research team in different breast cancer trials, and I enjoy working with such motivated and dedicated people every day. No matter how much you know about breast cancer and clinical trials, there is something new to learn every day.” says Mihaela. “And with the recent positive results on the APHINITY study, we keep hope that we can find a cure for breast cancer.” 

Outside the office, Mihaela’s free time equals spending time with her young son. She also loves travelling and she is constantly looking for weekend getaways and holidays. When in Brussels she likes playing tennis, swimming, going out for walks in the woods, or enjoying sunny days over a barbecue with her friends.

Her life motto: Life is too short to be anything but happy. Love deeply, forget quickly, take chances and never have regrets. Forget the past, but remember what it has brought you.

“I am pleased to be a small part of the global research team in different breast cancer trials, and I enjoy working with such motivated people every day.”

Gia Questiaux - Communications Coordinator

Gia was born and raised in South Africa and left home to complete her marketing and communications degree in Brussels, Belgium. Following her studies, she worked for an e-business in a competitive field, gaining crucial experience in the world of online communications. Gia serves as BIG’s Communications Coordinator. Along with her two colleagues, she works on communicating to the scientific community about the different trials, news and various other activities taking place within the BIG network.

She considers it as very enriching to be part of a motivated international network working towards one common goal that can have such a positive impact. She also values the opportunity to learn about clinical trials, as well as the amount of effort, work and people it takes to launch and conduct them.

“Working with such an amazing team of people is inspiring and makes going to work very easy in the morning.” she says. “But, moreover, being part of a team that has such an impact globally really motivates me to be better at what I do and pushes me to come up with creative ideas to get the message across.”

Gia’s life motto is ‘Ubuntu’, which translates into “humanity towards others” and encourages humanity and compassion. ”I try very hard to keep Ubuntu in mind in my daily life, as you never know what someone is going through at any given moment, be it positive or negative.“ she says.

When she is not on a computer, Gia enjoys travelling, cooking, reading and origami. 

…”being part of a team that has such an impact globally really motivates me to be better at what I do and pushes me to come up with creative ideas to get the message across.”

Leon Khanji – HR Assistant

Coming from Syria, and after leaving his house, job and country because of the war, Léon arrived in Belgium with his family in 2015. During this difficult period of his life, he has never given up hope. Keeping faith and giving hope to his relatives and friends has been vital for him to move forward. Léon joined the BIG Headquarters team end of 2016 as a human resources assistant. After building a long career as a dentist in his country (since 1981), it was essential for him to find a job that cares about people. Léon is very enthusiastic about joining BIG Headquarters and thereby contributing to advancing breast cancer research.

It’s really important for me to work, especially for a cause that aims to help people, and I’m happy in this new work environment.” Léon says.

Beyond contributing to a meaningful cause, he also likes spending time with his wife and four children, as well as doing sports such as running, walking and playing tennis.

“Keeping faith and giving hope is vital to move forward.”

Isaline Van Der Straten – Legal Advisor

After receiving a master’s degree in Legal studies, Isaline started her career as a legal advisor for a consulting company. While there she provided legal support and training to the chemical industry, especially with regard to compliance with the European regulation covering the Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (‘REACH’). After that and an experience in the digital marketing field, she returned to her first love, law, and joined the Hôpital Erasme in 2016, where she provided legal support to the Biomedical Research Department (the hospital’s clinical trials center). Through this experience she became familiar with clinical research and, in particular, with drafting, reviewing, negotiating and finalising various types of related agreements.

Isaline now serves as a Legal Advisor for BIG. Along with her colleagues, she works on managing the day-to-day legal aspects of the different trials and research activities, and on advising on a variety of other legal matters related to the running of BIG as an international not-for-profit organisation.

“I am very proud to be part of an organisation whose mission is to facilitate and accelerate breast cancer research internationally. I find it a very particularly compelling goal for a woman.” Isaline says. 

Outside the office she enjoys yoga, travelling and reading.

Her life motto is “Always trust your gut. It knows what your head hasn’t figured out yet.”

“I find it unique and motivating to work with people who share common values and care for what their organisation aims to achieve.”