St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is seeking to change the course of childhood cancer for children everywhere through our multi-billion dollar expansion plans that accelerates progress toward the cures.
The plan pushes St. Jude, founded by entertainment legend Danny Thomas, into a new phase in our mission driven, 55-year history, treating significantly more patients, enrolling more children in St. Jude led clinical treatment protocols, and accelerating research through collaboration.
Major elements of the plan include adding additional research and clinical care facilities, expanding collaborations nationally to advance research and care, and increasing the number of patients impacted by the St. Jude mission. This includes adding to the number of patients treated at St. Jude and enhancing the St. Jude Global program.
“Who’s going to step up and accelerate progress?” asks St. Jude President and CEO James R. Downing, MD, a renowned scientist who has served St. Jude for more than 30 years. “Who’s going to mobilize the world? We think St. Jude – with the support of our donors and partners – can do it better than anyone.”
Since our doors opened in 1962, St. Jude has helped increase U.S. childhood cancer survival rates from 20 percent to 80 percent due in large part to treatment and research conducted at St. Jude. For the most common form of childhood cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, St. Jude has played a leading role in increasing survival rates from 4 percent to 94 percent.
Despite this progress, 1 in 5 children with cancer in the U.S. do not survive and the odds are much worse around the globe. As we work to tackle these challenges, significant plans are underway to enhance the facilities on our campus in Memphis where more than $1.2 billion of new construction is currently expected through 2021. Key construction components support plans to treat more patients and conduct more research that could accelerate progress toward cures.
- A proposed new research tower will supply critical space as St. Jude expands the team of researchers, providing additional lab space equipped with the latest technology. The currently planned seven-story tower reflects Dr. Downing’s continued strategic focus on advancing progress through research. Already this decade, St. Jude has increased critical research spending by nearly 20 percent, to $357 million last year, alone, and it’s projected to grow dramatically through 2021. Costs could exceed $400 million for the tower that will break ground in 2018. Investments in research are critical as St. Jude continues to make breakthroughs and share knowledge with doctors and scientists worldwide to accelerate progress.
- The plan also calls for treating more patients and enrolling more children in St. Jude clinical trials. The large majority treated at St. Jude are outpatient, meaning they come to the hospital each day or each week, but return each evening to one of four St. Jude housing facilities. Given the increase, St. Jude is currently planning a fifth new housing facility, estimated to accommodate 140 apartment-style units. St. Jude is currently operating 69 beds with license for 80, but serves approximately 8,500 patients annually, including patients in the After Completion of Therapy Clinic and St. Jude LIFE study, which aims to understand the risks and long-term treatment impacts of cancer treatment in childhood cancer survivors. The new housing facility is planned for the Pinch district directly across the street from Tri Delta Place, another St. Jude patient housing facility with 100 units. The project is estimated to cost about $60 million with a 2018 groundbreaking expected based upon Board approval.
- Outpatient clinic visits, up nearly 20 percent since 2011, are a barometer of St. Jude growth and by 2021 will be significantly higher, according to projections. To accommodate that growth, a new outpatient and clinic office building is also proposed for Board approval, which could cost more than $200 million.
These new facilities will be occupied by a rapidly growing staff of healthcare professionals – faculty growth alone at St. Jude is projected at 28 percent through 2021 – and will add significantly to the annual cost of operating St. Jude. By 2021, annual operating costs, as projected, would grow an estimated 45 percent, to $1.15 billion.
As St. Jude gears up to do more, we also are preparing a new strategy to impact more children globally. St. Jude has already worked to spread its impact globally for 25 years by partnering with 24 healthcare facilities in 17 countries, from Central and South America, the Middle East, North Africa to Asia, but the new program – St. Jude Global – targets, with more energy and focus, poor and developing nations where 80 percent of the world’s childhood cancer patients live. Most don’t have access to modern medicine and won’t survive their illnesses. The new St. Jude plans aim to impact up to 30 percent of the global childhood cancer cases. The new strategic focus also intensifies that work by uniting doctors and scientists with expertise in international medicine, epidemiology, health economics and policy. Simply put, it broadens the ability of St. Jude to share knowledge and best practices to potentially save millions of children in future decades.
To understand how St. Jude can afford this exciting expansion, one must look to our unique, donor-driven operating model that funds research and state-of-the-art treatment for which patients and their families are never billed.
Thomas, working with a small group of supporters, chartered a pair of sister non-profits to fulfill a mission to end childhood cancer so, in his words, “no child should die in the dawn of life.” St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was established to focus exclusively on the research and treatment and means of prevention for pediatric catastrophic diseases. American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC) was created first to serve solely as the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude, a vehicle for Thomas, of Lebanese descent, to rally fellow Americans of the same heritage to say thank you to God and the United States of America for giving them a chance to make a life here. Today, millions of donors have mobilized in support of the lifesaving mission of St. Jude.
And while St. Jude accepts insurance, and many of its researchers have impressive grant funding, approximately 75 percent of the St. Jude operating costs must be provided by generous donors cultivated by ALSAC.
Under the leadership of ALSAC's President and CEO, Richard Shadyac Jr., ALSAC has increased fundraising and awareness, in an effort to meet the increasing operating budget of St. Jude, with one goal in mind: providing St. Jude the resources it needs as it expands its mission.
“I can say without hesitation we have the most generous donors and supporters on the planet,” said Shadyac. “That support is the lifeblood of our plans and expansion and no doubt will drive future efforts at St. Jude as we continue to find cures and help save children. It enables St. Jude leadership and our Board to dream big in its efforts to fight childhood cancer and other deadly diseases.”
ALSAC and St. Jude also have funds set aside for future growth or potential economic problems increase. These funds ensure that St. Jude can fulfill a nearly $1 billion commitment to just its current patients, many of whom will be in treatment for two to three years with an average cost of more than $425,000, pay for more than a billion dollars in new construction and still afford as much as $300 million a year in new operating costs resulting from the St. Jude 2021 plan.
We know we must to work toward the fulfillment of our founder’s dream. Together, with our generous supporters, we won’t stop until no child dies from cancer.