Windows into the soul of St. Jude

With its seamless integration of outstanding patient care and research, St. Jude keeps a steady focus on the future of children with life-threatening diseases.

To fully understand the mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, look into their eyes:

Gaze into the trusting eyes of a young child with cancer. Look into the hopeful, yet anguished eyes of a parent. Regard the compassion on the face of a dedicated clinician or the triumph of an exhausted scientist at the moment of discovery. And behold the smiling face of a long-term survivor, who has lived a spectacular life, thanks to the hospital’s research and treatment.

At St. Jude, thousands of employees partner with supporters nationwide in pursuit of a singular mission: advancing cures, and means of prevention, for the life-threatening diseases of childhood. That ambitious objective is possible only through world-class research and clinical care.

For more than 55 years, St. Jude has helped propel survival rates ever higher. That progress must continue—now, more than ever. Around the world, children continue to die of cancer and other diseases. St. Jude is uniquely positioned to step in and lead a global assault against that threat.

St. Jude has the knowledge, resources, courage, vision and public support necessary to accelerate progress toward cures. To do that, the hospital has embraced a multi-billion-dollar expansion aimed at conquering childhood cancer and other catastrophic diseases.

Through the eyes of children

The hospital was founded on the premise that research fuels clinical progress. As a result, scientists have gained crucial knowledge from each child who has ever taken part in a St. Jude clinical trial. Since 1962, tens of thousands of children have enrolled in clinical trials at the hospital, with untold numbers of children worldwide benefiting from the resulting discoveries.

In the coming years, the number of patients in these clinical trials will double, further expediting progress toward cures. That increase has already begun, with an additional 553 cancer patients accepted within the past year. The hospital will also advance care for children with blood disorders through innovative research and clinical care.

Because the secrets of cancer hide deep within the genes, St. Jude patients will have their genomes sequenced as part of the hospital’s clinical genomics program. The energy and expenses required for these initiatives will pay dividends in lives saved, as the hospital ushers in a new era of precision medicine. The hospital is now providing cutting-edge genetic sequencing to inform treatment decisions for patients with brain tumors, leukemia and other diseases.

Thanks to the generosity of donors, families never receive a bill from St. Jude for this cutting-edge treatment, or for their travel, housing or food. The average clinical cost per child is about $___ per year during active treatment.

But care does not end when treatment is completed. Through a novel long-term follow-up study called St. Jude LIFE, the hospital is bringing childhood cancer survivors to campus for regular health screenings throughout their lifetimes. Those survivors are also having their genomes sequenced. As a result of that project, scientists continue learning about the long-term effects of cancer and its treatment—information that will benefit current and future patients with cancer.

A family focus

On average, 7,800 active patients are seen at St. Jude yearly, most of whom are treated on a continuing outpatient basis as part of clinical trials. This model of care enables children to spend quality time with their families during therapy instead of being confined to a hospital room for weeks or months.

Nevertheless, cancer care is stressful for children and their families. That’s why St. Jude is working with children and their caregivers to further improve its patient and family experience. Recent amenities include construction of $40.3 million state-of-the-art inpatient units, the addition of concierge and babysitting services, dramatic housing renovations, and the addition of apartments designed to accommodate larger families.

Another housing facility is currently in planning phases, to accommodate the anticipated increase in patients. Nationally, the hospital has expanded its services by opening an eighth affiliate clinic. This new clinic in Tulsa, Oklahoma, enables St. Jude to enroll more patients on clinical trials, while offering treatment close to home.

A new “Town Square” within the hospital will soon allow families to shop, snack, make travel plans, attend school and handle other basic needs. And a patient app in development will feature way-finding functions, disease information, appointment and prescription alerts, advice for new families, special-event notifications and many other features. In order to provide a resource for patients and families worldwide facing cancer diagnoses, the hospital is developing a new patient and family website that will launch in 2018.

Through the eyes of clinicians

St. Jude has more than 3 million square feet of research, clinical and administrative space dedicated to finding cures and saving children. In the past couple of years, the hospital has opened the world’s first proton therapy center dedicated solely to children, as well as new inpatient, surgical and ICU facilities. But it’s the employees who infuse those areas with energy and who dedicate their lives to the mission.

For seven consecutive years, St. Jude been named to Fortune magazine’s listing of the nation’s 100 Best Companies to Work For. That recognition is based largely on the employees’ unswerving dedication to the children and the mission. The hospital has also been named one of “50 Companies That Care” by People magazine, as well as one of the best workplaces for millennials and women by Fortune magazine. In 2017, St. Jude was also named the No. 1 hospital for cancer care in US News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals list.

Never ones to rest on their laurels, St. Jude employees continue striving for excellence. In the summer of 2017, the hospital launched its second national consultation clinic for patients with rare tumors. These clinics bring patients and families who are treated elsewhere to St. Jude for medical exams, educational seminars, in-depth consultations with experts, and the chance to meet other families with the same cancers. Hosting these focused clinics allows clinicians to expand their knowledge of rare childhood cancers and to assist children and physicians nationwide.

The hospital has enrolled nearly 1,000 patients with sickle cell disease in a long-term follow-up study to better understand the disease’s progression and minimize complications. A reading clinic headed by St. Jude is helping to improve the reading and comprehension skills of children with sickle cell disease and hemophilia. St. Jude has also grown and expanded a partnership that provides a multidisciplinary approach to care for children with sickle cell disease as they transition to adult care. A mobile health app helps patients adhere to required medications, and the hospital is investing in research into gene editing for sickle cell disease.

Researchers' perspective

St. Jude is a place of discovery, collaboration and creativity—an environment where researchers are given the resources and freedom to collaborate across disciplines within the institution. Now, the hospital is expanding that collaboration exponentially.

A new service known as St. Jude Cloud will facilitate international collaboration and discovery, enhance research capabilities, and enable real-time clinical genomic analysis for precision medicine. Creation of a $53 million data center is also supporting the hospital’s research community by bolstering the scientific computing infrastructure.

To facilitate ground-breaking research, the hospital is designing a new research building for its scientists. And because collaboration accelerates progress, the hospital has created a Clinical Research Consortium that brings together experts from the top clinical research centers throughout the nation and beyond. A St. Jude Research Collaborative in 2017 brought some of the world’s leading experts to the hospital for a symposium that will fuel continued collaborations.

Another way to ensure excellence in childhood cancer research is to help educate tomorrow’s researchers. The new St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences not only fosters the next generation of scientists but also infuses new energy and ideas into clinics and labs, as some of the nation’s brightest students learn and serve and make discoveries alongside the hospital’s faculty and staff.

The global view

Although top-notch medical care is available for most children in the United States, the picture is often grim in other parts of the globe. The new St. Jude Global program has created a plan to bring sophisticated cancer care to children worldwide, creating a network of interactive programs and institutions so that every child with cancer has access to quality care. This ambitious program will build capacity and develop clinical research infrastructure in countries throughout the world.

The goals St. Jude has set are ambitious, and expensive, at a cost of about $1 billion per year. Yet the benefits will reverberate around the globe. St. Jude is always planning for the future and plans ahead to ensure the hospital can deliver peerless care for three years, despite what may happen across the country or world. Achieving the hospital’s goals is only possible because of the amazing support and resources generated by dedicated supporters who believe in tackling these crucial issues for the future of children everywhere. 

Through careful advance planning, St. Jude will continue to make progress, with the mission always paramount: Finding cures. Saving children.

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