In Memoriam

Dr. Costan W. Berard - January 5, 2013

drcostanberardThe Society for Hematopathology (SH) regrets to announce the passing of Costan W. Berard, M.D. on January 5, 2013 at the age of 80. Dr. Berard, with Dr. Ronald Dorfman, was the co-founder of the SH in 1981, establishing its role as an international venue to promote education and research in hematopathology. He served as the first President of the SH from 1982-1984.

Dr. Berard was born in 1932 in Cranford New Jersey, the youngest of four children born to Italian immigrants. His father died when Cos was three years old. His mother went to work running the family lumber yard. Dr. Berard attended Princeton University, graduating first in his class in 1955. His oratorical skills first led him to consider a career in the law; however, he chose instead to study medicine at Harvard Medical School, graduating cum laude in 1959. Following an internship at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York, Dr. Berard served at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR). His experiences at WRAIR led him to study pathology, rather than surgery, which he had initially considered.

In 1963, Dr. Berard came to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institutes of Health, where he made his mark in pathology and hematopathology in particular. As Chief of the Hematopathology Section from 1970-80, Dr. Berard established close collaborations with colleagues who revolutionized the treatment of malignant lymphoma and Hodgkin’s disease. In addition, he had the foresight to see that advances in modern immunology would alter forever the way in which pathologists would classify malignancies of the immune system.

At the NCI, he assembled a team of younger pathologists who pursued translational studies of malignant lymphomas using many advances from the basic sciences. The revolutionary changes in immunology had a profound impact on the classification of lymphoma, which was in a state of flux in the 1970’s. Dr. Berard recognized the clinical need for a workable, user-friendly classification of malignant lymphomas. As NCI Project Officer, he led the multi-institutional NCI-funded study that published a working formulation in 1982. Originally intended as a “stopgap measure”, it was widely used both in clinical practice and clinical trials for the next decade.

From 1980 to 1997, Dr. Berard was Chairman of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. His ability to recognize and recruit the best and the brightest was one of his strongest skills, leaving a legacy of fine pathologists at both the NCI and St. Jude. He was extraordinarily generous as a mentor, and always sought to ensure the recognition and credit for others.

Dr. Berard is well known for his leadership and contributions to the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology, leaving his mark on virtually all aspects of Academy affairs. He served as President from 1991-92, as well as Councilor (1985-88), International Councilor (1986-88 and 1992-94), a member of the Executive Committee (1989-93), Education Committee (1979-83) and Finance Committee (1992-96). He twice served as the Director of a long course (1974 and 1986), and gave a course on lymph node pathology (1979-85). He had an impact on the Academy’s journals as well, serving on the Editorial Board of both Modern Pathology and Laboratory Investigation. In 1998, he was awarded the F.K. Mostofi Distinguished Service Award for outstanding service to the International Academy of Pathology and its United States-Canadian Division.

Dr. Berard’s successes were shared with and made possible by the dedication and devotion of his wife Susan (who served as Secretary of the SH). Together they put the SH on the international stage. After his retirement from St. Jude in 1997, they moved to Fripp Island, South Carolina. They were married 51 years at the time of Susan’s death in 2009. He is survived by two daughters and one granddaughter.