Edinburgh Cancer Research

Professor David Cameron appointed BIG Chair

Professor David Cameron becomes new Chair of the Breast International Group (BIG against breast cancer), the largest global not-for-profit network for academic breast cancer research groups: November 2019

Professor David Cameron
Professor David Cameron

Professor David Cameron from the Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre has been appointed the Chair of the Breast International Group (BIG against breast cancer) during BIG’s General Assembly, which took place on 2 June 2019 in Chicago. Professor Cameron began his term on 8 November 2019 at the Executive Board meeting which took place in the Institute of Genetics & Molecular Medicine in Edinburgh.

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 57 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.

Involved in BIG since 2001 and a member of its Executive Board (EB) since 2010, Professor Cameron connects deeply with the history and evolution of the organisation, understanding and sharing its core principles of academic independence, global collaboration and high-quality research. He is an unfailing advocate of BIG’s vision to unite groups from around the world to conduct clinical trials asking the most relevant scientific questions to serve the needs of patients with breast cancer.

Prof. Cameron’s nomination coincides with BIG celebrating the 20th anniversary of its official founding in 1999 by Profs Martine Piccart and Aron Goldhirsch. This represents two decades of collaboration to move breast cancer research forward more rapidly and more efficiently, while reducing unnecessary duplication of efforts.

David Cameron has background in both mathematics and medical oncology. He is currently Professor of Oncology at Edinburgh University, Director of Cancer Services in NHS Lothian, Principal Investigator in the CRUK Edinburgh Centre and joint lead of the Edinburgh Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre. Holding many years of experience in international clinical trial management, he has been actively involved in the leadership of major cancer research groups, such as the European Organisation for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) and the UK Cancer research networks (NCRN). He is also a member of numerous professional societies, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO).

BIG’s new Chair emphasises the changing landscape of clinical research - with novel research structures emerging around the world and ever more advanced technologies, ranging from smart drugs, smart computers and artificial intelligence to immunotherapy and liquid biopsy. Other priorities are the need to engage better with patients and to hear their voices, as well as the necessity to maintain scientific integrity and academic independence. In the years to come, to continue to find funding for academic studies, which are essential to patients but have no commercial interest, remains a primary concern for the BIG network. 


The role of Chair is perhaps less of that of the “leader” but more of the helmsman steering a ship who is totally dependent on his fellow crew members - Executive Board members, headquarters staff and of course all the member groups.

Prof. David CameronCancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre, University of Edinburgh


David embodies all the qualities required to be an inspiring and committed leader for BIG. He has the necessary expertise and, most importantly, essential human values such as altruism, integrity and trust. His determination and strong collaborative spirit, combined with that of the other Executive Board members, will bring a renewed dynamic and a strengthened strategic thinking to the network, and this is essential for the future of BIG as an academic and patient-centred organisation.

Prof. Martine Piccartco-founder of BIG, Immediate Past Chair and President of BIG against breast cancer, the philanthropy unit of BIG

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