Dear colleagues, friends and members of SIOP
It is with immense sadness that we inform the SIOP community of the death of Dr. Christophe Bergeron on December 27th 2023 at the age of sixty-nine years.
Christophe devoted his professional life to improving care and advancing knowledge for children with cancer. He ardently believed in the significance of collaboration and early sharing of research findings, with the overarching goal of enhancing the diagnosis, treatment, follow-up, and overall support for children with cancer and their families.
Christophe led the local organising committee of the 51st SIOP Congress in October 2019 in Lyon. Following this very successful congress, he retired from professional practice. Sadly, in early 2023, he was diagnosed with an illness with a very poor prognosis of which he was very well aware. He died peacefully at home in the presence of his family.
Originally from the Versailles region, Christophe did his medical training in Paris at the Necker Enfants Malades University Hospital, after which he pursued his medical career in Rennes. He spent one year as a visiting researcher in Biology at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF).
He moved to Lyon in 1996 and actively participated in the development of the pediatric department of the Léon Bérard Oncology Center, where he was one of the main players in the creation of the Institute of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology (IHOPe) and its first medical director. A charismatic leader, always attentive to his colleagues, he worked to unite hematology and oncology in this institute.
With his common sense and his solid medical culture in pediatric oncology and hematology, he actively contributed to decisions during Multidisciplinary team meetings and encouraged the development of interregional organizations in France. He excelled in the art of leading constructive discussions and loved sharing his knowledge and experience. He always worked with an “open door” to encourage his colleagues to come and talk with him.
Christophe was a very active and appreciated member of the French paediatric oncology society, the SFCE (previously SFOP). He was fascinated by fundamental sciences and very involved in several European collaborative groups. He was a co-founder of the European paediatric Soft tissue Sarcoma Group (EpSSG) and the SIOP Renal Tumour Study Group (RTSG), a member of the SIOP RTSG steering committee, and member of the EpSSG RMS 2005 trial management group, both for over 10 years. As such, he brought together the members of these groups in Lyon on several occasions for working sessions, where he loved the creative ‘brainstorming’ parts, including participation from the relevant study groups in North America. He initiated and contributed to many research projects as well as to major protocols for the ‘standard of care’ management of the tumour types he was expert in.
He co-authored >150 scientific publications, one of the first of which in « La Revue du Praticien » in 2004 entitled « Cancer de l’enfant. Particularités epidémiologiques, diagnostiques et thérapeutiques ».
Christophe then contributed to many scientific projects in the field of pediatric renal tumours, soft-tissue sarcoma, neuroblastoma and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He mentored many doctors in training to develop their scientific skills and to take the lead in projects.
In line with his collaborative spirit, he was remarkably modest about his role in guiding and leading the French renal tumour committee of the SFCE for over 15 years. He contributed to the SIOP RTSG as the French representative but even more as a member of the Steering Committee and leading the bilateral Wilms tumour subcommittee for many years. Christophe was always available to discuss unusual or complex cases, for the benefit of the patients. To this end, he created the monthly national MDT in France for complex renal tumour cases, that remains a true success and makes a real difference to patients’ management.
He was very greatly appreciated by his colleagues and his patients for his kindness, his empathy, his respect and his humour. He was a great tutor, mentor and a warm hearted colleague. Many of us have lost a dear friend who supported us to progress, but we will keep Christophe’s memory alive in our work.
We express our sincere condolences to his wife Dominique, their four children and many grandchildren.
On behalf of the SIOP-Renal Tumour Study Group and the European paediatric Soft tissue sarcoma Study Group
Dr. Arnauld Verschuur, Prof. Dr. Marry M. van den Heuvel-Eibrink, Prof. Dr. Kathy Pritchard-Jones, and Prof. Dr. Hans Merks.