Actualité - Pediatric cancers

Childhood cancers: innovation above all

Julia Vollerin
11/29/2017
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Franck Bourdeaut, pediatric oncologist and researcher, embodies the SIREDO philosophy: marrying research and clinical practice within the same structure.
Franck Bourdeaut

Despite the great progress made, cancer remains the second most-common cause of death for children aged under 15, with accidents in first place. Dr. Franck Bourdeaut has chosen to make the fight against pediatric cancers his daily battle. This pediatric oncologist has dual expertise, in clinical practice and in research, in rhabdoid tumors, which are aggressive tumors in children, as well as AT/RT tumors.

Franck Bourdeaut joined Institut Curie as a resident in 2000. Ten years later he settled there as a pediatrician. Why? Because Institut Curie offered him the opportunity to split his schedule between clinical practice and research. This continuum between basic research, clinical research and care is a direct product of the Curie legacy, and according to Franck Bourdeaut is today “the best way to accelerate therapeutic innovation.”

Care, Innovation & Research

Dr. Bourdeaut naturally found his place in the SIREDO project, for Care, Innovation & Research in Childhood, Adolescent & Young-Adult Oncology. His role? Along with Gudrun Schleiermacher, a pediatrician and researcher, he oversees the connection between the research laboratory and the clinical department. SIREDO has over 70 scientists, 5 research teams, 51 caregivers all striving with the hope of achieving a breakthrough in the treatment of pediatric cancers.

We are in an international context in which the merging of research teams and clinical teams is growing. At Institut Curie we have been able to very effectively carry the research laboratory discoveries in molecular diagnosis or prognostic biomarkers through to the clinical phase. However, we have been less successful in applying these discoveries in the therapeutic field, for example by initiating the introduction of new treatments. Thus Franck Bourdeaut believes SIREDO to be an opportunity to develop therapeutic applications for research conducted at Curie.

In parallel, Dr. Bourdeaut is actively pursuing his research activity. The team leader for the rhabdoid tumor project in the RTOP (pediatric oncology translational research) laboratory, this summer he won two calls for bids. On the one hand, a radiotherapy response modeling project combined with immunotherapy, in partnership with the Janssen Horizon project, and on the other hand a call for bids from InCA (the French national cancer institute). In this call for bids, in collaboration with Mathieu Gérard from the CEA at Gif-sur-Yvette, the aim is to more fully describe the characteristics of rhabdoid tumors. Although this project is one of basic research, researchers are hoping for knock-on therapeutic effects.

Dr. Franck Bourdeaut has added to this array of expertise and skill a topic that is especially close to his heart, namely the genetic aspect of predispositions to childhood cancers. Although it does not constitute the core of his research, this physician-researcher is nonetheless committed, in particular as co-founder and coordinator of the national pediatric oncogenetics collaborative group of the SFCE. One of the central aims of SIREDO is to breathe new life into this area of research.

This dedication to research has not gone unnoticed. The pediatrician-researcher is winner of the prestigious International Robert J. Arceci Innovation Award, awarded on October 13 of this year. The award was presented at the SIOP (International society of pediatric oncology) by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, one of the largest North-American funding providers for pediatric oncology research.