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St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, located in Memphis, Tennessee, is one of the world’s premier pediatric cancer research centers. Its mission is to find cures for children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases through research and treatment.
Research efforts are directed at understanding the molecular, genetic and chemical bases of catastrophic diseases in children; identifying cures for such diseases; and promoting their prevention. Research is focused specifically on cancers, some acquired and inherited immunodeficiencies, sickle cell disease, infectious diseases and genetic disorders.
The current basic and clinical research at St. Jude includes work in gene therapy, bone marrow transplantation, chemotherapy, the biochemistry of normal and cancerous cells, radiation treatment, blood diseases, resistance to therapy, viruses, hereditary diseases, influenza, pediatric AIDS and psychological effects of catastrophic illnesses. St. Jude also conducts long-term biostatistical investigations on the long-term outcomes of its patients and is the only pediatric research hospital that has been awarded a National Cancer Institute cancer center support grant.
St. Jude recently completed an extensive expansion program that bolstered the hospital’s research and treatment efforts, more than doubling the size of its original campus. The expansion included the Children’s GMP, LLC, currently the nation’s only pediatric research center on-site facility for production of highly specialized treatments and vaccines; an expanded Department of Immunology; and a new Department of Chemical Biology and Therapeutics for discovery of new drugs. St. Jude now has 2.5 million square feet of research, clinical and administrative space dedicated to finding cures and saving children.
The new Chili’s Care Center integrates patient care and research where rapidly evolving CT (computerized tomography) and MR (magnetic resonance) technology keep St. Jude at the cutting edge for radiation therapy in a pediatric / adolescent setting. Additionally, a state-of-the-art cyclotron enables St. Jude researchers to undertake many important new PET (positron emission tomography) radiochemistry studies. These imaging techniques facilitate the rapid evaluation of new therapeutic approaches and help choose those most likely to be successful.
About 7,800 active patients are seen at St. Jude yearly, most of whom are treated on a continuing outpatient basis as part of ongoing research programs. The hospital also has 78 beds for patients requiring hospitalization during treatment. St. Jude has treated children from all 50 states and from around the world.
Patients at St. Jude are referred by a physician, and nearly all have a disease currently under study and are eligible for a research protocol. St. Jude is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance. No child is ever denied treatment because of the family’s inability to pay.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was founded by entertainer Danny Thomas and opened on February 4, 1962. St. Jude is supported primarily by donations raised by its national fundraising organization, ALSAC, which was established by Danny Thomas expressly for the purpose of funding St. Jude. The hospital also receives assistance from federal grants (mainly through the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute), insurance and investments.
One of the most significant events to occur at St. Jude happened in 1996 when Peter Doherty, PhD, of the Department of Immunology was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. He shares the award with Rolf M. Zinkernagel, MD, of the University of Zurich. Their findings have led to breakthroughs in the understanding and treatment of viral infections and cancers, and in the development of organ transplant procedures and vaccines. It is the highest award a scientist can win.
Operations are overseen by the Boards of Directors and Governors. The research activities are reviewed annually by the Scientific Advisory Board, composed of internationally prominent physicians and scientists.
The hospital’s daily operating costs are $2 million, which are primarily covered by public contributions. St. Jude has more than 3,600 employees.
St. Jude currently has six affiliate hospitals: the St. Jude Midwest Affiliate in Peoria, Illinois.; LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, Louisiana; Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; the St. Jude Tri-Cities Affiliate in Johnson City, Tennessee.; Huntsville Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Huntsville, Alabama; and St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Missouri.
The mission of the International Outreach Program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to improve the survival rate of children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases worldwide, through the sharing of knowledge, technology and organizational skills. There are currently 20 official partner sites in 15 different countries around the world. International Outreach helps partner medical institutions develop tailored evidenced-based protocols for treating children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. St. Jude physicians serve as mentors to physicians at our partner sites and consult on difficult cases. We train nurses in best practices in clinical care and work with pathologists on techniques for accurate diagnosis. We also partner with local fundraising foundations that support the medical programs. This model has proven to be highly effective in providing children in developing countries access to modern treatment and care.
St. Jude continues to define the forefront of clinical care and research by aligning with two Southern California institutions: Rady Children’s Hospital, San Diego; and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).
The unique alliance is designed to benefit both patient care and research efforts. It will enable St. Jude, Rady Children’s and UCSD to combine their resources and expertise to pursue clinical trials and basic and translational research.