Dr Eva Carrasco

Intro text: 

Interview with Dr Eva Carrasco, new member of the BIG Executive Board 2018-2022

Could you please explain what motivated you to apply and serve on the BIG executive board?

Content: 

The current cancer research scenario is extensively regulated, which makes daily research very complicated and costly. Pharma, although playing an important role to introduce new drugs to the market, doesn’t support the full development of drugs. As a consequence, academic investigators have to do this work, although there is very limited budget for that.

Editor: 

Within this scenario, the role of cooperative groups is crucial to cover the unmet medical needs that physicians dealing with breast cancer patients face daily in the clinic. The role of local groups such as GEICAM is very important in this matter, but in order to respond quickly to these needs, it is critical to collaborate with counterparts in other countries. For this international collaboration, BIG represents the perfect mechanism.  That’s the reason why, since I joined GEICAM more than 8 years ago, I have tried to attend all BIG meetings to foster GEICAM’s collaboration within this network.

For all these reasons I decided to apply and serve on the BIG Executive Board (EB) with the aim to work hard to serve the best interests of breast cancer patients.

Why did you decide to pursue a career specifically in breast cancer research?

Well…to be honest, initially this was not a decision I could take on my own. When I joined pharma in 1998 to work in clinical research in the Spanish affiliate, there was already another oncologist working in the main area for this company, which was lung cancer. At that time, I was told to coordinate the research within the other four indications for our drug, including breast cancer.

I worked very hard to try to implement the highest number of local clinical trials in all these indications, most of them in partnership with local cooperative groups. I don’t know the real reason – maybe it was destiny –  but breast cancer was the most successful in terms of research, and I really enjoyed the collaboration with GEICAM leaders. That’s why I tried to continue working in women’s cancers, not only at the local, but also at the EU level, before I started my current job as General and Scientific Director of GEICAM.

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

Transparency (I must say I have seen a huge improvement with this in the last 4-5 years), boosting young talent, and collaboration between the groups with unity and generosity.

Given your past experience in the pharmaceutical industry and your current leadership role in a well-established academic research group, how would you like to see the collaboration between pharma and academia evolve in the coming years?

I would like to see real partnerships between pharma and academia.

In my opinion, this happened more frequently in the past. In fact, in my initial years working in pharma, this was something I could feel; we were able to design clinical plans together, and the opinions of thought leaders were considered very seriously. It was also a tremendous honour to have a cooperative group helping with the development of our drugs. Something contributing to this was maybe the fact that decisions were not only taken at the headquarters of companies but also at local levels, closer to the investigators.

Nowadays, this is becoming more and more difficult, and so I would really like to see a return to the previous situation. 

What is your favourite thing to do in your free time?

There are several favourite things I like to do in my free time. One of them is dancing; my husband and I have been taking classes in what we call ballroom dancing (salsa, swing, merengue, tango, quick-step, rock & roll, etc) for a long time, and we are used to going out dancing with our friends. I am also able to dance soft flamenco (as I was born in Seville in the South of Spain, and really enjoy it a lot).

I also like sports: cycling and paddle-tennis are my favourites and now that my children have grown-up and are both at university, I have more time available to practice them. Reading is also a hobby, though for this unfortunately I have less time, as I end up only reading science!