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The founders of St. Jude devised a plan to create an environment in which basic science researchers and pediatric clinicians would work together to efficiently translate discoveries made in the laboratory into clinical practice for treating catastrophic childhood illnesses. The close interactions and collaborations between scientists addressing key clinical problems and clinicians who care for patients who have those diseases continue to be a great strength of our institution. In this regard, St. Jude is at the forefront of efforts to improve cancer diagnosis, prediction of treatment outcome, and the development of new, rationally designed anticancer therapies.
Today, the clinical and basic science investigators in three Comprehensive Cancer Center Programs––Hematological Malignancies, Neurobiology & Brain Tumor, and Developmental Biology & Solid Tumors––are transforming our understanding of the genetic basis of childhood tumors and developing experimental models that accurately recapitulate human diseases and facilitate the testing of new therapies.
Developing accurate preclinical models of pediatric cancers and efficient methods for testing and optimizing drug combinations in those models is essential. The number of potential anticancer compounds is staggering, and it is not possible to test all potential drugs in all tumor types. Furthermore, the small size of the pediatric population with these rare diseases severely limits the number of clinical trials that can be conducted. Therefore, St. Jude researchers are working to efficiently translate only the most promising laboratory discoveries into definitive clinical trials.