Page 3 - Labatt BTRC Annual Report 2020-2021
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Eric Bouffet is a paediatric oncologist, Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto, Garron Family Chair in Childhood Cancer Research and Head of the Neuro- Oncology Section in the Division of Haematology/Oncology at SickKids. Eric graduated in 1980 from medical school at the University of Lyon. Following graduation, he trained and practised in Lyon until 1995 and moved to the United Kingdom, where he was Consultant Paediatric Oncologist in 2 different places (Bristol and South London). In 2000, SickKids recruited Eric to develop the paediatric Neuro-Oncology Program within the Division of Haematology/Oncology. Eric is a Senior Associate Scientist in the Research Institute at SickKids, focusing on clinical trials and new treatments. He is also interested in the care of children with cancer around the globe and, in particular, in low and middle-income countries. In this context, he was President of the International Society of Paediatric Oncology between 2016 and 2019. Dr. Bouffet is currently a Member of the Board of Directors of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and GFAOP (Franco-African Group of Paediatric Oncology).
Profile of Dr. Eric Bouffet
   Questions for Dr. Eric Bouffet
How did your interest in paediatric neuro-oncology begin?
This is a long story! I trained as a paediatric anaesthetist/intensivist and was asked to join the oncology centre in Lyon when they were developing a bone marrow transplant unit. I built the BMT program while working there for four years. When it was time to move on, I asked my chief for advice. She told me to focus on brain tumours in children. Back in the early 1990s, the field was a “no man’s land.” It was a fantastic opportunity, and I am forever grateful to Dr. Maud Brunat for her advice!
What research projects are you currently pursuing?
I am interested in paediatric low-grade glioma, and I have been working on vinblastine for 20 years. There are now new targeted treatments for this condition, but this does not mean that we have been able to fix all problems. I’m now working on combination treatments using these new agents with chemotherapy like vinblastine. My second area of study is on MMRD (mismatch repair deficiency) with Dr. Uri Tabori. Uri’s lab is completing the laboratory work, while I am involved in the clinical trials.
What is one of your most cherished accomplishments during your time at SickKids?
My most cherished accomplishment is to see the team today with outstanding people who have driven this program to the top. I am always surprised when I attend national and international meetings to hear
how often people are referring to the work in Toronto (surprised and proud, of course). This is not limited to the Neuro-Oncology team, and the close collaboration with neurosurgery and radiation oncology is also something I cherish.
What are some of the most exciting changes we can look forward
to in treating children with brain tumours in the next five years?
I hope and expect that there will be more targeted treatments and less toxic chemotherapy. However, my dream is to see a drug that can treat diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. We are not there yet, but this will happen. I also hope that these new treatments will not be limited to children
living in wealthy nations. So, I am working with different pharmaceutical companies to expand the field of clinical trials to low- and middle-income countries. We are close to opening the first trial, and this is exciting!
Now for something personal! What are some of your hobbies?
My first is family – just to enjoy this precious time with family and friends, since it’s easy to take it for granted. I am also a runner. On average, 3,000 km each year, five days a week. It is not only to remain fit, but also for my brain! Other hobbies? I used to play guitar and banjo before I arrived in Canada, but I did not have much time to practice,
so this is on my bucket list now. And of course, I like travelling, meeting people, and discovering other places.

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