Home_Spotlight — 23 September 2013
Dr Martine Piccart: 2013 Recipient of the David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award

Dr. Martine Piccart, Director of Medicine at the Jules Bordet Institute in Brussels, and Professor of Oncology at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) is the first Belgian to have won the David Karnofsky Memorial Award1.  Since 1970, the prestigious award, presented by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), annually awards an oncologist who has made an exceptional contribution to the diagnosis or treatment of cancer.

The award is given in recognition of innovative clinical research and development that has changed the way oncologists think about the general practice of oncology. In its 43-year history, Dr. Piccart is only the fourth woman and among only a few Europeans to have received this prestigious award.

Dr. Piccart’s active involvement and notable list of achievements* in oncology and breast cancer research have done just that, portraying her true dedication and passion in the fight against cancer. In addition to her roles as Director and Professor she stands as Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board since its creation in 2006 and is Co-Founder and Chair of the Breast International Group (BIG). In line with this year’s ASCO conference theme: “Building Bridges to Conquer Cancer”, Dr. Piccart expressed her full support for the need for international collaboration to find a cure: “I would like to express my strong belief that ‘building a large number of solid bridges’ is the only way we are going to accelerate progress against cancer. The time is now!” and further emphasized her “deep conviction that the formation of many strong bridges between international research is the only way to progress rapidly in the fight against cancer”.

In light of “building bridges”, when asked how she regarded the global positioning of Belgium alongside her global contribution to the practice of oncology, Dr. Piccart commented,Belgium, perhaps because it is a small country, has shown strong interests in international collaboration in many fields – including oncology – for several decades. The EORTC headquarters, for example, are based in Brussels and this organization was created 50 years ago thanks to the vision of 3 cancer doctors, including Professor Henri Tagnon from the Institut Jules Bordet in Brussels. Having had Prof. Tagnon as one of my mentors, it is not surprising that I developed a strong motivation to create a ‘global’ clinical research network for Breast Cancer, as this was in my view the most efficient way to accelerate the discovery of effective therapies in a disease that, like many others, is subjected to increasing fragmentation as a result of a better understanding of it genetic heterogeneity”.

Regarding the role of the Jules Bordet Institute and international academic networking, Dr. Piccart described the importance of building strong bridges between international research as being the key to advancing in the fight against cancer (as is being done with BIG). Dr. Piccart expressed her hope, “that the Jules Bordet Institute will continue to play a pioneering role in cancer research at an international level, as [they] are currently training a new generation of brilliant medical oncologists who ‘grow up’ in the Institute next to dedicated research teams busy with the coordination of many exciting cancer research projects conducted across many different countries”.

Upon receiving the news of her award, Dr. Piccart credited her many colleagues for their support and trust in her vision for a strong international network of academic groups and the many centres committed to ‘driving’ the clinical and translational breast cancer research agenda, stating, “without their support I would never have been selected for this prestigious scientific honor”.

As for the practice of oncology, Dr. Piccart also has expressed her view on where it’s headed and the approach she feels will be necessary in the future of cancer care. “The practice of oncology is entering a ‘revolution’ rather than undergoing an ‘evolution’: the depth of the information cancer doctors will get about their patients in view of the rapid development of molecular screening and molecular imaging will be impressive and will require a much reinforced multidisciplinary approach to cancer care”.

Congratulations to Dr. Piccart for her extraordinary efforts and exceptional contribution towards building bridges to conquer cancer!


Leader in international breast cancer research collaboration and drug development, and serves as the principal or co-principal investigator for large, important clinical trials including HERA, MINDACT, and ALTTO and has received numerous awards for her research contributions, including the McGuire Award for excellence in Breast Cancer Research and the Umberto Veronesi Award for the Future Fight against Cancer.

1 David Karnofsky Memorial Award

Since 1970, ASCO has been awarding outstanding individuals who have contributed both to the field of oncology and to the way oncologists think about this discipline with the David A. Karnofsky award. This award is named after one of the true great pioneers in Oncology and is further a tribute to the distinguished physician David A. Karnofsky who himself lost a battle with lung cancer in 1969. The award includes an undisclosed cash prize related to research. Over the past 35 years, ASCO has bestowed this honor on many great doctors including Sydney Farber, Vincent DeVita, Saul Rosenberg, Larry Einhorn, Judah Folkman, and Brian Druker…






Martine Dr. Piccart, MD, PhD
Head of Medicine Department
Institut Jules Bordet
Boulevard de Waterloo 125
B-1000 Brussels
Phone : ++32.2/541.32.06
Fax : ++32.2/538.08.58
email : martine.piccart@bordet.be


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