Dr Carlos Barrios

Intro text: 

An interview with Dr Carlos Barrios, new member of the BIG Executive Board 2018-2022.

What particular expertise do you think you will bring to the BIG Executive Board?


I believe that my experience in the process of developing a multinational research infrastructure (LACOG) over the last 10 years in low-middle income (L-MIC) regions of the world, such as Latin America and the Caribbean, is something that can help BIG to expand its influence to other regions of the world.Of note, over the next decade, most new cancer cases and cancer related mortality will be seen in low and middle-income countries, and clinical research undoubtedly is one of the major strategies to provide access and improve cancer care in these regions.


During ASCO 2018 you presented an educational session on how to improve global breast cancer research. How do you think BIG could better leverage international collaboration, particularly between regions that face many challenges when it comes to healthcare in view of regional obstacles?

Breast cancer represents a significant challenge in many aspects. Recent data showing a dramatic decrease in the mortality rates (39%) in the US indicates that it is possible to improve these results in other parts of the world and cure a significant proportion of patients. A broad approach will be necessary, as we will need to address prevention, screening and early diagnosis strategies, as well as surgical treatment, radiotherapy and access to new medications as part of the process.

BIG members cover many areas of expertise and, through active collaboration, I believe the organisation can be instrumental in developing academic trials that are essential for answering important questions that will not be covered by pharma sponsored studies.At the end of the day, research globalisation is an extremely positive process that finds in BIG an ideal platform.

Give an example of a defining moment in your career.

The year was 1989 and with my wife Patricia, a pediatric cardiologist, after eight years of training in the US, we decided, not without major discussions, to return to Brazil to practice and raise our two sons.While it was a very difficult decision at the time, looking back, we feel today we made the right choice.

Please cite three elements that you find critical for the continued success of BIG in the next decade.

  1. Globalisation of its membership will certainly bring a broader input of problems and ideas, much needed to develop
  2. the best strategies to answer the complex questions we need to address in breast cancer care.Academic research needs to be resuscitated. We need to focus on the important questions not related to the best next drug. Without abandoning drug development trials, patient selection strategies, prevention, de-escalation approaches and access policies are areas where BIG can help address critical questions with significant impact on patients all over the globe.
  3. Collaboration is key.  The culture of sharing experiences and building new paths is part of what BIG has the unique opportunity to offer.  While difficult to implement, the possibility of working together with people from different backgrounds is the way forward and a differentiating opportunity.

What are your favourite free time interests?

Reading, friends and sports!