Pierre  Busson
  • E-mail :[email]
  • Phone : +33632444926
  • Location : Villejuif, France
Last update 2023-03-08 16:38:31.605

Pierre Busson MD, PhD, ScD, CNRS Director of research

Course and current status

Dr. Pierre BUSSON, MD, PhD, ScD

CNRS director of Research (DR1 CNRS)
Born on July 29, 1956
UMR 9018 – METSY
CNRS/Gustave Roussy
94805 Villejuif – FRANCE
Email: Pierre.BUSSON@gustaveroussy.fr
Orcid number: 0000-0003-1027-3400
Head of Team n°2 within METSY unit
"Host-tumor interactions in Head and Neck carcinomas"  
Certified by HCERES in 2019


2001              Certification of supervisory ability (HDR – ScD)
1990              PhD in Biochemistry/Virology – University of Paris VII
1983 - 1984   Master of Biochemistry and certificate of General Virology (Pasteur Institute)       
1973-1983     Medical Studies (Pierre et Marie Curie University, Paris)


 Professional cursus 

2019               CNRS director of Research (DR1) – Gustave Roussy   

2008               CNRS director of Research (DR2) – Gustave Roussy     

1992-2007     CNRS researcher- Gustave Roussy 

1990-1992     Post-doc, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA     

1983-1989     PhD student including 2 years as Inserm junior researcher (1988-89)

1979-1983     Paris Hospital residency (radiotherapy, critical care medicine, oncology)                                                                       


Current team members

  • Karim Benihoud, professor at Paris-Saclay (PR1)
  • Thierry Ragot, CNRS researcher
  • Sophie Dupré, assistant professor Paris-Saclay
  • Salomé Laurans, PhD student
  • Clément Vanbergue, PhD student
  • Philippe Gorphe, associated member, ENT surgeon
  • Caroline Even, associated member, medical oncologist
  • Ingrid Breuskin, associated member, ENT surgeon



  • 2015: co-recipient of the Matwin 2015 award for the "best project answering an unmet medical need"
  • 2012: excellence premium awarded by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)
  • 2011: entitled with a Translational Research hospital convention (Aviesan)


Publications 120 publications  (113 articles in pair-reviewed journals and 7 book chapters) - 8375 citations including 2330 since 2017 - H index 49 (29 since 2017)(Google scholar).

Patents  PCT/IB03/04922 - PCT/FR2009/000409 - PCT/FR12/000550                      W0 2015/185875 A2 - licensed to HiFiBiO Therapeutics since February 2017 (about 50% of the inventive parts for our team) 

Scientific supervision

  • Nineteen Master students
  • Fourteen PhD students and theses completed
  • Seven post-doctoral researchers


Most successful previous PhD students

  • Claire Lhuillier, senior scientist at Sanofi
  • Clément Barjon, researdh scientist at Sanofi
  • Benjamin Vérillaud, Professor in Otorhinolaryngology (ENT) and CervicoFacial surgery at Lariboisière hospital and Paris university, specialist of rare ENT tumors
  • Luc Friboulet, Inserm researcher, head of the team « Genetic adaptation to kinase inhibitors» at Gustave Roussy (Inserm UMR 981), holder of an ERC consolidator grant


Recent Funding

  • GEFLUC : 2021/2022 (coordinator)
  • ITMO Cancer:  Grant for interdisciplinary approaches to oncogenic processes (PCSI)(2021/2022)(participant)
  • INCa-DGOS grant for translational research (PRTk16158 – Gynomir) - 2017-2022 (coordinator for the biological part)
  • Collaboration contract with HiFiBiO-Therapeutics (2017-2022)


Teaching activities

  • Currently: participation in several master's courses: Master 2 in Oncology at the University of Paris-Saclay - M1 option "Virology" in the "Microbiology" course at the Paris-Sorbonne University
  • Previously: responsible for a 20-hour teaching unit on the theme: "Infectious agents and cancers" from 2005 to 2019 as part of the Master 2 in Oncology at the University of Paris-Saclay


Research animation and management

Elected member of the Research governing board at Gustave Roussy from 2006 to 2009 – Member of the steering committee of the « Herpesvirus and Cancer network» from 2006 to 2010 - Organizer and/or scientific committee member for preparation of international workshops on Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma from 2003 to 2015.

 Member of the organizing committee and “Session discussion leader" for the first Gordon Conference on Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma (Hong Kong, June 2016). Invited speaker at the second and the third Gordon Conference on Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma (Hong Kong, June 2018 and Castelldelfels, Spain, May 2022).


Research assessment and expertise

External reviewer for the Research Grants Council of Hong-Kong (2003 to 2023), FRS/FNRS (Belgium 2012 to 2020 - 2022), Paris-Hospitals (2005, 2007, 2013), French National Research Agency (ANR 2010 to 2012) and various public and private funding bodies in France and abroad  (Bloodwise, UK; Cancer Research UK; KWF Kankerbestrijding, Holland; Aquitaides; Alsace-Biovalley; Cancéropôle-Ile de France; Clara; Comue Grenoble-Alpes; Finovi; Gefluc; Ligue Nationale contre le Cancer; Société Française de Dermatologie).

Assessment of Medical staff for French Research institutions

Member of the selection committees for secondment of Hospital doctors in Research laboratories: CNRS/Polytechnique/Pasteur (2013 and 2014) and Inserm (2018 and 2019).

Editorial activity  

Academic editor for Plos-One since 2011 - Member of the editorial board for Frontiers in Immunology (section Tumor Immunity)

Ad hoc reviewer for various international scientific journals (JNCI, Blood, PNAS, Cancer Research, Journal of Virology, Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer, Oncogene, Oncoimmunology, Journal of Pathology, American Journal of Pathology etc…)

Current collaborations

Collaborations with French colleagues

  • Dr Olivier Morales and Pr Nadira Delhem at OncoThai U1189 Inserm, Lille (influence of exosomes from NPC cells on effector cells of innate immunity) 

International collaborations

  • Prof. Udo Kontny and Dr Anna Makowska at the University Hospital of Aachen, Germany (development of adoptive immunotherapy based on NK cells)
  • Pr Jiang Li, Sun Yat Sen University Cancer Center, Canton (facilitating role of gal-9 in the transformation of B lymphocytes by EBV); 
  • Dr. Tanja Matisevic in Zagreb (Ruder Boskovic Institute)(influence of TLR3 agonists on malignant ENT carcinoma cells).

Scientific summary

            I obtained my M.D. in 1983 and my Ph.D. in Virology in 1990 from Paris University. Following a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Lineberger Cancer Research Center (Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA), I was recruited by the CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research). Most past contributions of my group were on virus-cell and host-tumor interactions in Epstein-Barr virus-associated nasopharyngeal carcinomas (NPC). I was invited speaker at the Gordon Research Conferences on Nasopharyngeal Carcinomas organized in Hong-Kong (2018) and Castelldefels (2022). We have published more than 110 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

            Our work on NPC has led us to demonstrate the contribution of galectin-9 (gal-9) in the immune evasion of NPC cells (Klibi et al., Blood 2009, doi: 10.1182/blood-2008-02-142596). In the following years, similar immunosuppressive effects of gal-9 have been reported by other groups in other types of malignancies including pancreatic, renal and lung carcinomas as well as melanomas. For a long time, investigations on gal-9 in murine tumor models have been directed towards gal-9 produced by infiltrating leucocytes. Using murine tumor cells knocked-out for gal-9, we were the first to provide a formal demonstration that, at least in some murine models, gal-9 released by malignant cells themselves plays a key role in immune suppression and tumor development (Baloche et al., Sci Rep 2021, doi.10.1038/s41598-021-84270-1). However, the effects of extracellular gal-9 are not entirely immunosuppressive. Recent results indicate that it may play a role in the development of germinal centers (Tran et al., Oncoimmunology 2023, doi: 10.1080/2162402X.2022.2150472). One extension of our experimental and translational research on gal-9 is the development of a neutralizing antibody for therapeutic purposes. It is carried out in collaboration with two companies, HiFibiO Therapeutics and FibroGen, on the basis of a patent in which our group holds about 50% of the inventive shares (W02015185875A3) (Lhuillier et al., Plos One 2018, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0202512).

            More recently, we became interested in the mechanisms of muscular atrophy or sarcopenia which is very common in the context of Head and Neck carcinomas (HNCs). It is a factor of poor prognosis which often prevents the implementation of potentially effective anti-tumor treatments (chemotherapy, immunotherapy…). Our study is based both on in vitro co-culture experiments and on the use of small muscle fragments collected during surgery in patients with HNCs. Thus, we were able to observe similar transcriptional alterations in muscle cells co-cultured with malignant cells in vitro and in muscle fragments from patients presenting with a sarcopenic state (H. Hachicha and I. Baïche, manuscript in preparation).

            I am teaching undergraduate and graduate students at Gustave Roussy and Paris-Saclay University. I am a grant reviewer for several institutions in France, Europe and Hong-Kong. I am academic editor for PLoS One and ad hoc reviewer for about 20 journals.

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