Martine Piccart winner of KNAW Bob Pinedo Cancer Care Award

4 October 2018

Relevance for patients is what underpins all her research. The development of ‘personalised treatment’ is central to her work. Martine Piccart (65) is receiving the Bob Pinedo Cancer Care Award 2018 for her distinguished contributions to research on breast cancer treatment and for her wide-ranging work as an educator and advocate for clinical cancer research.

The importance of Piccart’s work is illustrated by several studies. She played a key role in groundbreaking research showing that women with an aggressive form of breast cancer (HER2-positive breast cancer) benefited when administered trastuzumab in combination with chemotherapy. Trastuzumab is a protein that recognises and attaches itself to a receptor on the surface of the cancer cell, stopping the cell from growing and dividing. It reduces the likelihood of this type of breast cancer recurring or of the patient dying by approximately 40 percent. Piccart was the driving force behind another major international study on the efficacy of gene expression profiling. The results of this study have made it possible to determine the most suitable method of treatment, based on the unique genetic traits of the individual patient’s cancer cells – an outstanding example of ‘personalised medicine’. In addition to her role in various other research initiatives, Piccart is the initiator and research coordinator of AURORA, an experimental study investigating the molecular causes of metastatic breast cancer.

International cooperation

In 1996, Piccart made an impressive contribution to international collaboration in cancer research by founding the Breast International Group (BIG), whose honorary chairperson is Her Majesty Queen Mathilde of Belgium. Uniting more than fifty academic research groups, this unique international network connects top scientists specialising in medical oncology, surgery, radiology, medical imaging, pathology, molecular biology and biostatistics. The international biobank developed through the network contains precisely characterised tumour specimens, providing a basis for countless research projects and opening up new opportunities for cancer research.

Martine-Piccart-PBCCA2018-Gleamlight-BIG080414-0030-460-bodyPhoto: Philippe Molitor - Gleamlight

More about Martine Piccart

Martine Piccart (born in Brussels in 1953) is regarded as a positive role model for many young female physicians and scientists. In addition to her research work, she was the first and, so far, the only female president of three major professional organisations dedicated to cancer research in Europe, i.e. the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO), the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) and the European CanCer Organisation (ECCO).

Piccart publishes in leading journals and is a frequently cited author. As an authoritative researcher and inspiring educator, she is in great demand as a speaker at medical conferences. She has received numerous awards for her contributions to cancer research. Piccart is Head of Medicine at the Jules Bordet Institute in Brussels.

About the KNAW Bob Pinedo Cancer Care Award

The KNAW Bob Pinedo Cancer Care Award is a new biennial award for (an) internationally acclaimed researcher(s) in cancer care. It is named after the renowned Dutch oncologist and researcher Bob Pinedo (born in Curaçao in 1943). The award is intended for researchers currently active in pioneering cancer research or compassionate cancer patient care. The award winner receives 100,000 euros to use for research. He or she also receives a bronze sculpture in the form of Professor Pinedo’s right hand, symbolising the unique relationship between a doctor and a patient, as well as strength and hope of healing. The sculpture is designed by Floris Tilanus. Nominations may be submitted by research institutes and researchers around the world. A jury headed by an Academy member assesses the nominations.

For more information about the Bob Pinedo Cancer Care Award, see: knaw.nl/knaw-bob-pinedo-cancer-care-award