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Martine J. Piccart, MD, PhD

Institut Jules Bordet
Brussels, Belgium

Titles and Affiliations

Honorary Professor of Oncology
Université Libre de Bruxelles
Scientific Director
Institut Jules Bordet
Brussels, Belgium
Member, BCRF Scientific Advisory Board

Research area

Understanding the molecular alterations in metastatic breast cancer that correlate with disease progression and/or therapeutic resistance.


Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is one of the leading causes of cancer-related mortality among women in the Western world. Dr. Piccart and her team of cancer experts and bio-informaticians are analyzing tumor tissue and blood samples collected from patients enrolled in the AURORA study, a flagship study of BCRF’s Evelyn H. Lauder Founder’s Fund for Metastatic Breast Cancer Research. She and her team hope to identify changes in tumor DNA that affect how the tumor responds to treatment to enable the discovery of new treatments, while improving the effectiveness of current therapies to extend the lives of women and men living with MBC.

Progress thus far

Dr. Piccart’s team is conducting deep molecular analysis of samples taken from the primary tumor and matched metastatic lesions of patients included in the AURORA molecular screening program. The AURORA trial has accrued more than 1,100 women and men from 60 hospitals across 11 EU countries. Preliminary analysis from the first 381 enrolled have identified several molecular features unique to metastatic lesions compared to matched primary cancers. Results from the study were presented at the breast meeting of European Society for Medical Oncology in 2019 and published in the journal Cancer Discovery in 2020.

What’s next

The team will continue the molecular characterization of the remaining patients included in AURORA. The study will be expanded to include patients with invasive lobular or triple-negative MBC, as well as those who were diagnosed with MBC many years after ostensibly curative therapy. Analyzing data from all AURORA patients will be essential to validate initial findings and to allow the study of rarer subtypes of breast cancer. This will enable a better understanding of the origin and evolution of metastatic breast cancer.


Martine J. Piccart, MD, PhD, is Honorary Professor of Oncology at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Belgium, and Scientific Director at the Institut Jules Bordet.

She is co-founder and chair of the Breast International Group (BIG), uniting 57 academic research groups from around the world, running over 30 trials, and developing numerous research programs. AURORA, a study to better understand metastatic breast cancer, is the most ambitious of these.

Dr. Piccart is past-president of the EORTC, of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) and of the European Cancer Organisation (ECCO). She served on the ASCO and AACR  Boards. Author or co-author of more than 540 peer-reviewed publications, she has received numerous prestigious awards, including the Jill Rose Award, the William L. McGuire Award, the Umberto Veronesi Award for the Future Fight against Cancer, the 2013 David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award, the Leopold Griffuel Award and the Bob Pinedo Award in 2018.

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The Judy and Leonard Lauder Award

Areas of Focus