Developing an international network for breast cancer research: the BIG experience

Author(s): Michael Gnant, Martine Piccart-Gebhart, Aron Goldhirsch, Jose Baselga, David Cameron, Angelo Di Leo, Mitchell Dowsett, Richard Gelber, Gunter von Minckwitz, Cecilia Waldvogel, Carolyn Straehle

With a network of 47 academic research groups worldwide, the nonprofit Breast International Group (BIG) is a leading force in the breast cancer research arena. BIG’s mission is to facilitate breast cancer research internationally by stimulating cooperation between its members and other academic networks, such as the North American Breast Cancer Group. Global collaboration between groups with a shared vision is necessary to fight breast cancer efficiently. BIG members follow the same principles of research conduct, including strict rules about scientific integrity in trial design, trial governance, data management, independent data review and the reporting of results. This ensures that research advances knowledge to improve treatments and patient outcomes, while preserving independence from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry, even when BIG trials are supported wholly or in part by industry. Such balanced partnerships best serve the needs of patients. This article describes the development of BIG, highlighting its key achievements and plans for the future.