Skip to content
Home » European Society for Paediatric Oncology

European Society for Paediatric Oncology

European Society for Paediatric Oncology

The European Society for Paediatric Oncology (SIOP Europe, or SIOPE) is in charge of a sub-task in WP 2, dedicated to the identification of cancer research challenges to address future EU priorities & research policies, where SIOP Europe will contribute the perspectives of European paediatric oncology experts on paediatric cancer research and understanding the developmental biology to cancer emergence at young ages. SIOP Europe will further contribute to WP 3 by analysing the landscape of existing European, national and international paediatric cancer infrastructures, data platforms, repositories, and registries. Within WP 5, SIOP Europe will provide inputs regarding the definition of the governance rules aimed at coordinating the research activities of the platform. In addition, SIOP Europe will be involved in the implementation of WP 6 devoted to reducing inequalities in cancer research and innovation from the paediatric oncology perspective. This includes SIOP Europe’s participation in benchmarking existing research infrastructures and networks across Europe and identifying specificities of paediatric cancers that may justify dedicated European-level paediatric cancer research programmes. Moreover, the organisation will help generate rules that promote twinning programmes in paediatric oncology by establishing the link with the European Reference Network on Paediatric Cancer (ERN PaedCan). This is facilitated by the fact that SIOP Europe sits on the Oversight Committee of the ERN PaedCan and the ERN PaedCan coordinator sits on the SIOP Europe Board – reflecting the long-established and closely-knit paediatric oncology community in Europe.

Biographies of team members

Gilles Vassal

Trained as a Paediatric Oncologist, Gilles Vassal received his PhD in Pharmacology. He is a Professor of Oncology at the University Paris-Saclay. A former head of Clinical Research, he is currently heading the Pediatric Research programme at Gustave Roussy Comprehensive Cancer Center in France, a large cancer centre with 12,000 new patients annually.

For the last 20 years, Gilles Vassal dedicated his research, clinical and training activity to the development of new drugs for children and adolescents with cancer. He co-founded three European networks, an EU academic Consortium for Innovative Therapies for Children with Cancer (ITCC), the European Network for Cancer research in Children and Adolescents (ENCCA) and the European Expert Paediatric Oncology Reference Network for Diagnostics and treatment (ExPO-r-Net).

Gilles Vassal is currently ITCC chair, a network that conducts a comprehensive new drug development program from the biology and preclinical evaluation to the early drug trials in 16 EU member states and Israel. He is Past-President (2013-2015) and currently Board Member of the European Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP Europe) driving the EU Paediatric Oncology Policy agenda on several topics.

He is also Chair of ACCELERATE ( – a multi-stakeholder international platform to accelerate innovation for children and adolescents with cancer. Created in 2015, ACCELERATE is a partnership between academia, industry, regulatory agencies (EMA and FDA) and patient advocate groups committed to improving and speeding up the development of innovative therapies.

He has authored more than 250 publications, is an expert at the European Medicine Agency and member of several Scientific Councils.

Carmelo Rizzari

Carmelo Rizzari is a Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy and has been involved in the field of paediatric leukaemias with a special interest in both traditional and innovative chemotherapy agents.  He is currently running the Paediatric Haematology-Oncology Unit in Monza (MBBM Foundation, ASST Monza, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy), which is one of the largest centres for the diagnosis and treatment of haematological malignancies in Italy.

Since the start of his career, he has been involved in the field of paediatric leukaemias with a special interest in both traditional and innovative chemotherapy agents. He is currently Chairman of the AIEOP (Associazione Italiana di Ematologia ed Oncologia Pediatrica) Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) Committee which aims to improve the knowledge and treatment of childhood ALL  in the country.  He is also a member of the national AIEOP scientific committees for first-line and relapsed trials for ALL and AML and an active member of several scientific and steering international committees (e.g. AIEOP-BFM ALL trials, International BFM Study Group, ITCC, INTREALL).  Within the ITCC Consortium (Innovative Therapies for Children with Cancer), he served as a member of the Quality and Accreditation Committee and is currently the Chair of the ITCC Centre of Monza, Italy.

For several years now, he is also serving as the representative of the International BFM Study Group at ENPREMA (European Network for Paediatric Research at EMA) which aims to foster and integrate at the European level the research and innovation in different paediatric areas. He is also currently national PI or Co-PI or local site PI for several national or international phase I and II Pharma sponsored or Academia driven studies involving innovative drugs for resistant/relapsed leukaemias and lymphomas.

Author or co-author of over 150 peer-reviewed scientific publications, he has also actively participated as an invited speaker in several international scientific meetings and disease-specific working groups.

He is President-Elect of the European Society of Paediatric Oncology  (SIOP Europe, or SIOPE) and currently serves as Co-Chair of the SIOP Europe Clinical Research Council, which gathers the thirty-five National Paediatric Haematology-Oncology Societies and the nineteen European Clinical Trial Groups.

Samira Essiaf

Samira Essiaf is the Chief Executive Officer of SIOP Europe since it became an independent organisation in 2007. Graduating with a degree from the Free University of Brussels in Biology and a degree in Scientific teaching, Samira Essiaf started her career in 1998. She gained national and international experience by working for multinational companies and educational institutes as well as various international placements in Ireland, Morocco and Singapore.

She has a previous 10 years’ experience in the field of clinical trials, where she was working for the European and InterContinental headquarters of Esoterix (a LabCorp company). In this role, she was responsible, as InterContinental Project Manager, for the setup of the clinical trials studies from Phase 1 until Phase 4 and the overall management of the InterContinental laboratories located in Australia, India, Israel, South Africa and Singapore. Simultaneous to this position, Samira has been setting up and teaching “Pharmaceutical-Assistant courses” at the KTA Institute, Belgium. Since 2019 she has been appointed as CEO of the international multi-stakeholder forum ACCELERATE (provides a transparent forum to discuss and address, in a timely fashion, overarching issues in the development of innovative anticancer medicines for children and adolescents with cancer.) Samira has been among the initiators of the ENCCA project, the PanCareSurFup project, the EPAAC project, ExPO-r-Net project, Joint Action on Rare Cancer (JARC), ERN PaedCan, Partner Project, IMI C4C project, Primage project, PanCare Follow-up project thereby gaining considerable experience in the management and dissemination of EU-funded projects.

Deyan Lazarov

Deyan Lazarov is working as Policy Officer at the European Society for Paediatric Oncology (SIOP Europe, or SIOPE) since May, 2021. Having worked on multiple research and policy projects in his current role, involving outreach to paediatric haemato-oncologists and childhood cancer patient, parent and survivor groups, he will contribute to the CSA by managing and coordinating SIOP Europe’s participation in the project. He has lived, studied and worked in Bulgaria, Germany, Belgium and the United States. His international profile facilitates the much-needed outreach to stakeholders from different countries, especially in regard to rare diseases such as childhood cancers. Previous to his role in SIOP Europe, Deyan has gained experience in policymaking from the European Parliament and project management from a globally active consultancy.