Prof Judith Bliss

Intro text: 

Interview with Prof Judith Bliss, new member of the BIG Executive Board 2017-2021


Could you please explain what motivated you to apply and serve on the BIG Executive Board (EB)?

I’ve been involved with BIG since the early days and seen its role grow in depth and diversity. I therefore welcome the opportunity to help shape its future.


What particular expertise do you think you can bring to the BIG EB?

As a statistician and Director of an academic Clinical Trials Unit (CTU), I bring complementary expertise to that of my clinical colleagues.  That will relate to the scientific research methodology associated with proposed and ongoing trials and also to the research governance and management arrangements required for large scale multi-national and multi-disciplinary projects. 


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

Scientific ambition, pragmatic collaboration, and research integrity.


What are the biggest challenges currently faced by all stakeholders of the breast cancer research area? How do you think BIG can play a significant role in this context? 

A major challenge is the length and scale of trials required to provide definitive practice changing evidence. Another is overcoming the obstacles to enable the conduct of robust but scientifically efficient trials, and the incorporation of pragmatic solutions.

BIG can assist – to listen, to learn – how international groups can best work together, recognising the different working practices and infrastructures surrounding trial conduct in each country – brokering collaborations both between groups and with pharmaceutical company partners to enable cutting-edge contemporary trials to be expedited.


Do you think we will see practice-changing results from breast cancer research in the next decade? Which ones?


  • The definition of better biomarker selection for preferential targeting of therapies
  • The discovery and validation of novel endpoints (e.g., biomarkers, ctDNA positivity) to enable both tracking of disease progression and to provide an earlier read out for large adjuvant trials.  


As a member of the BIG EB, you play a key role in shaping international breast cancer research. You also have heavy responsibilities at your own institute, and you contribute to the advancement of research at your county level. How do you balance your national with your international activities?

Life as a CTU Director and active trials researcher is a busy one – no doubt. Being a trialist, however, has always been about building collaborations, sharing ideas and best practice; thus, international activities are a natural extension to those conducted within a national group.


We would like to know more about you. What do you do in your free time, what are your hobbies?

Most important free time activity is to be a mum to an active teenager.

Hobbies span hill walking, sailing, running, gardening – generally living an active outdoor life – and a bit of yoga and reading when the weather turns bad.  


Have you read a good book lately that you would recommend?

Kate Atkinson: Life after Life and its companion A God in Ruins.

Abraham Verghese: Cutting for Stone.