Timeline: From Dream to Reality

  

More than a half-century ago, entertainer Danny Thomas envisioned a hospital that would treat children regardless of race, color, creed or their family's ability to pay. A facility where research would shine light into the darkness.

Thomas’ vision became a reality when St. Jude Children's Research Hospital opened February 4, 1962. Since then, St. Jude has become one of the world's premier pediatric research institutions. Explore the scientific milestones that have marked our progress from that day to present.

 

Explore through the Decades

1960s1970s1980s1990s2000s2010s

 

1960s

  

"It took a rabble-rousing, hook-nosed comedian to get your attention, but it took your hearts and your loving minds and your generous souls to make this fabulous dream come true.... If I were to die this minute, I would know why I was born."

– Danny Thomas at St. Jude opening, February 4, 1962

"Your child has cancer." No words strike more fear into a parent's heart. In the early 1960s, those words meant almost certain death. The overall survival rate for childhood cancer was less than 20%; for the most common form of childhood cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), it was 4%. In spite of those appalling statistics, no institution was dedicated to fighting the scourge of childhood cancer, sickle cell disease and other catastrophic disorders. Then, St. Jude opened. The battle against catastrophic childhood diseases had begun.

 
Pat Patchell

In 1966, Pat Patchell (shown holding his boyhood portrait) was one of the first patients ever successfully taken off therapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, based on evidence that remission could be sustained. "How can you express enough thanks, when you were in dire straits and they saved you? It really is the greatest place," he says.

Lemuel Diggs, MD

Even before the hospital is built, research begins. ALSAC, the fundraising organization for St. Jude, presents a $10,000 Plough Inc. grant to Lemuel Diggs, MD, for his work on sickle cell disease. Diggs—who conducts his work at the University of Tennessee at Memphis—subsequently publishes the first comprehensive study of sickle cell disease and its impact on the African-American population.

Hospital opening

February 4, 1962 – The hospital opens in Memphis, Tennessee, before a crowd of 9,000 people.

St. Jude opens during a turbulent era in American history. The star-shaped building designed by renowned African-American architect Paul Revere Williams immediately becomes the region's first fully integrated hospital. The integration of St. Jude also extends to the Memphis hotel industry. In order to house St. Jude families, a facility must agree to offer housing to anyone, regardless of race.


 

St. Jude hires a scientific maverick to lead the fledgling hospital. Unlike most of his peers, Donald Pinkel, MD, has the audacity to believe that cures are possible. His unconventional approach toward the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) initially draws objections from many in the scientific community. But thanks to a revolutionary "Total Therapy" regimen combining multiple anticancer drugs with radiation treatment, the survival rates begin to inch upward. Each of the Total Therapy trials builds upon the success of preceding studies—an approach that continues to this day.

By the end of the hospital's first year of operation, more than 30 research projects have been instituted and four have been completed.

The first immunologic method to diagnose solid tumors in children is developed at St. Jude.

A group of St. Jude patients are the first acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) patients to ever be successfully taken off therapy, based on evidence that remission can be sustained.

St. Jude researchers find that chemotherapy is effective against Ewing sarcoma, one of the most frequent malignant bone tumors in children. When combined with radiation, this treatment causes the survival rate to improve significantly.

"This is the hospital for catastrophic diseases, and the most catastrophic problem in children is malnutrition," observes Dr. Donald Pinkel  in the hospital's 1969 annual report.

St. Jude research had shown that 25% of low-income children in Memphis were anemic, about one-third had parasitic infections and about 10% had growth impairments. St. Jude enrolls thousands of local infants in a successful nutritional program, which serves as the prototype for WIC, the federal health and nutrition program for women, infants and children.

 

1970s

  

"If you really want to get the most out of your money, invest in research. If someone discovers a new drug, it can be used for decades—even centuries, maybe—and affect millions of kids. That's why St. Jude is a research institution. Although the research is done in Memphis, it applies to children all over the world."

– Walter Hughes, MD, former Infectious Diseases chair

 
Angel Crum

Angel Crum recently traveled from Ohio to Memphis to participate in the St. Jude LIFE long-term follow-up study. She marveled at the changes that have occurred since she underwent treatment for embryonal carcinoma in the 1970s and 1980s. "As soon as the plane touched down, I had all these thoughts going through my head," she muses. "What Danny Thomas did—not only for me but for other kids—is a blessing. The doctors said that I wouldn't live past the age of 12, but here I am! My motto is, 'I'm on an incredible journey through life.'"

St. Jude issues a statement that would have been impossible a decade before:

"Leukemia can no longer be considered an incurable disease."

Researchers discover "calmodulin," a small protein that regulates many key activities within living cells.

The hospital publishes a study that shows a 50% survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) using a combination of chemotherapy and radiation. This achievement revolutionizes leukemia therapy worldwide.


The St. Jude Midwest Affiliate Clinic opens in Peoria, Illinois—the first of six domestic affiliate clinics nationwide.


Donald Pinkel, MD

Hospital Director Donald Pinkel, MD, receives the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award for his contribution to the development of combination therapy for cancer.

Alvin Mauer, MD

Alvin Mauer, MD, becomes the hospital's second director.

Luis Borella, MD, with a patient

St. Jude becomes the first hospital to identify important subtypes of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), including T-cell leukemia. This finding, which proves that ALL is not a single disease, leads to better risk classifications, new research directions and improved treatment.


A new drug combination is found to be effective against leukemia that recurs after initial treatment. This leads to improved therapy for hundreds of leukemia patients, especially those with disease that is at high risk for early failure.


ALSAC Tower

The ALSAC Tower opens to house expanded St. Jude research programs. At its opening, then-President Gerald Ford calls it "a great day for our nation and for the children of our country stricken with catastrophic diseases." In 2005, the building is renamed in honor of Richard C. Shadyac Sr., ALSAC's fourth CEO.

Robert Webster, PhD, and Allan Granoff, PhD

The World Health Organization (WHO) designates St. Jude as a Collaborating Center for the study of the transmission of influenza from animals to humans.

St. Jude nurse and patient

The hospital launches the first major effort to understand the lifelong progression of sickle cell disease.


Clinicians develop a treatment that is effective for 55% of patients with neuroblastoma, the second most common solid tumor in children.


 St. Jude develops a treatment that not only cures a type of pneumonia frequently fatal to children with compromised immune systems, but also prevents that disease as well as other bacterial infections. The treatment becomes even more important when it is shown to prevent the same type of pneumonia in patients with AIDS.

 

1980s

  

"There are two kinds of people in this world: The givers and the takers. The takers sometimes eat better, but the givers always sleep better."

– Danny Thomas

 
Kimberlin George-Wilson

Kimberlin Wilson-George made medical history when she underwent a bone marrow transplant for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and had a fortunate outcome: The procedure also cured her sickle cell anemia. "I tell people all the time that I am a walking miracle," Kimberlin says.

Joseph Simone, MD

Joseph Simone, MD, becomes the hospital's third director.


Researchers discover that children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) can differ by as much as 10-fold in their ability to clear antileukemia drugs from their blood.


 A St. Jude patient with sickle cell disease is the first to be cured with a bone marrow transplant.

William Evans, PharmD

Investigators discover that childhood leukemia patients who can retain anti-cancer drugs longer in higher concentrations are more likely to become long-term survivors than patients whose bodies remove the drug more rapidly. This marks the beginning of individualizing drug treatments for each child.


Researchers pinpoint the first two specific genetic translocations known to cause acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).


Scientists find evidence that some patients have a mixture of two acute leukemias: myeloid and lymphoid.


 
inpatients

Scientists develop a novel method to identify patients with neuroblastoma who are likely to have a poor response to therapy. This information allows clinicians to concentrate on this high-risk group while sparing others the toxicity of intensive treatment.


Rearrangement of the genetic material within human chromosomes is found to be an important factor in how a child with leukemia responds to treatment.


St. Jude establishes a clinic specifically for cancer survivors. Today, the After Completion of Therapy Clinic is the world's largest long-term follow-up clinic for pediatric cancer patients.

Larry Kun, MD

The hospital's new brain tumor program begins accepting patients. Unlike other hospitals, St. Jude provides an integrated and personalized treatment plan for each child.


Scientists find alterations in a gene that codes for a growth factor receptor of certain types of white blood cells. This helps transform normal cells into leukemia cells and is responsible for their spread throughout the body.


 St. Jude launches a pilot study showing that chemotherapy can be added after surgery to delay irradiation in infants and young children with brain tumors. This allows the children's brains more time to mature before undergoing irradiation, thus reducing the side effects of treatment.

The St. Jude Board of Governors declines an invitation to move St. Jude to St. Louis, Missouri. Afterward, the hospital has a renewed sense of resolve to fulfill its potential.


 Using risk-directed therapy, clinicians begin reducing the amount of cranial irradiation for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

Founder Danny Thomas announces that HIV/AIDS falls within the parameters of the St. Jude mission. As a result, the hospital institutes a clinical program to seek a cure for pediatric AIDS.

Early St. Jude patient

Children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at St. Jude no longer receive chemotherapy based on their size. Treatment is now based on each child's ability to break down drugs in the body.


Charles Sherr, MD, PhD, Tumor Cell Biology chair, is appointed a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

Robert Webster, PhD, of Virology is elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London.

 

1990s

  

"The greatest reward is the smiles on the faces of the children whose lives you've helped save."

– Danny Thomas

 
Gabriela Salinas

Gabriela Salinas came to the United States from Bolivia in 1996, seeking treatment for a solid tumor known as Ewing sarcoma. At St. Jude, Gabby and her family found hope, healing and inspiration. Today, Gabby works in the hospital's Chemical Biology and Therapeutics department, giving back to the hospital that saved her life.

Carlos Rodriguez

Researchers determine that the risk of developing secondary acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is low or negligible in children treated for malignant solid tumors.


St. Jude clinicians successfully use radioactive implants to treat childhood brain tumors.


Blood cell growth factors are found to counteract life-threatening bone marrow depletion caused by the toxic effects of intensive chemotherapy.


St. Jude is the first to use gene marking to follow the course of bone marrow transplantation in children.


St. Jude scientists discover that an antimalarial drug can prevent or effectively treat a life-threatening form of pneumonia in patients with AIDS.

Danny Thomas dies February 6, two days after helping St. Jude celebrate its 29th anniversary.


The survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) reaches 73%.


The Danny Thomas Research Tower opens, with then-first lady Barbara Bush attending the dedication.


 
Ronald McDonald House

The Ronald McDonald House of Memphis opens, providing housing for St. Jude patients and their families.


By measuring the number of copies of the N-myc gene in neuroblastoma patients, St. Jude researchers individualize chemotherapy for those children.


Mammalian G1 cyclins (types of proteins involved in initiating cell cycles) are identified and associated with the development of certain cancers.

Pat Flynn, Walter Hughes, Wren Kennedy

St. Jude forms a Pediatric AIDS Clinical Trial Unit with two other Memphis area hospitals.


 Scientists identify key genes involved in two immunodeficiency diseases in male children, which creates a major contribution to the knowledge of hereditary disorders.

Arthur Nienhuis with patients

Arthur Nienhuis, MD, becomes the hospital's fourth director and CEO.

Hillary Clinton with patients

A new and expanded Patient Care Center opens, with then-first lady Hillary Clinton as an honored guest.


HIV infections are shown to be preventable by chemotherapy. The AIDS Clinical Trials Unit participates in a study showing that infants are at lower risk of acquiring HIV when ziduvodine, or AZT, is given to infected pregnant women and babies after birth.


 Targeted T-cells are used as cell therapy against Epstein-Barr virus lymphoma.

Doctor treats patient

Cancer survival rates for African-American children are shown to have reached parity with Caucasian children when treated with protocol-based therapy.


St. Jude is the first to adapt a computer-based, 3-D radiation therapy technique for pediatric brain tumor treatment.


 Charles Sherr, MD, PhD, Tumor Cell Biology chair, is elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Peter Doherty, PhD

Peter Doherty, PhD, St. Jude Immunology chair, is awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. He and Rolf M. Zinkernagel, MD, PhD, of the University of Zurich share the prize for their pioneering research explaining how the immune system recognizes and kills virus-infected cells.


By opening vector production labs, St. Jude becomes one of the few centers in the world with a comprehensive cell and gene therapy program.


 The world's first bone marrow transplant to treat osteogenesis imperfecta, a rare bone disease, is performed at St. Jude.

St. Jude patient

Scientists demonstrate that bone marrow transplants from unrelated, genetically matched donors are as effective in treating childhood leukemia as those from patients' siblings who are genetically matched.


While identifying a new cancer-fighting tumor suppressor gene called ARF, scientists discover that a single genetic locus encodes protein products that regulate the most frequently targeted biochemical pathways in cancers.


James Ihle, PhD, Biochemistry chair, is named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

By individualizing the dosage of chemotherapy, scientists discover they can increase survival rates for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) without causing excessive toxicity.


Investigators determine that the JAK-2 enzyme is essential to the production of red blood cells and platelets.


The survival rate for ALL reaches 80%.


Discovery of a new strain of drug-tolerant bacteria helps investigators take the first steps in developing a drug to eradicate antibiotic-tolerant bacteria and possibly antibiotic-resistant bacteria.


 Peter Doherty, PhD, of Immunology and Robert Webster, PhD, of Virology are elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Target House ribbon-cutting ceremony

Target House opens for St. Jude families requiring long-term housing.


A St. Jude study identifies a genetic defect that can predispose pediatric leukemia patients to develop secondary brain tumors. The investigators develop strategies to prevent this occurrence.


Scientists determine that the Prox1 gene appears to play a primary role in lymphatic system development and might serve as a specific marker to analyze lymphatic system development.


Scientists discover a cellular reason why some cells are resistant to standard anti-HIV drugs.


Scientists find that a protein called BLNK is essential for normal development of the immune system.


St. Jude researchers discover why removal of two small enzymes called SOCS proteins can have deadly consequences. Advances in understanding the functions of the SOCS1 gene, in particular, may have important clinical implications.

 

2000s

  

"In a way, these findings represent coming full circle. St. Jude was the first to introduce cranial radiation as a treatment strategy that advanced the cure of childhood ALL to 50%. Now, St. Jude is the first to show that we can successfully eliminate irradiation by optimizing chemotherapy."

– Dr. William E. Evans, St. Jude director and CEO, 2004-2014

 
Brennan Simkins

Since arriving at St. Jude in 2009 with a severe form of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), 10-year-old Brennan Simkins has undergone four bone marrow transplants. "St. Jude has been a tremendous gift to our family," says his mom, Tara.

Clayton Naeve, PhD

The Hartwell Center for Bioinformatics and Biotechnology opens. It integrates, in a single location, more state-of-the-art research technologies in computing and molecular science for the investigation of pediatric disease than any other such center in the world.

Preparation for radiation

The effect of radiation on a child's brain is measured for the first time in a pioneering study of pediatric brain tumor patients. The study enables doctors to plan radiation therapy so as to spare normal brain areas that could be negatively affected by radiation.


 Researchers discover the world's first "universal" stem cell marker.

Larry Kun, MD

St. Jude launches the Cure4Kids website. It provides clinicians worldwide with a free and open online meeting place for clinical discussions of childhood catastrophic diseases.


The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences elects its first members from St. Jude: then-hospital Director Arthur Nienhuis, MD, and William E. Evans, PharmD, who would become St. Jude director and CEO in 2004.


Scientists unveil a genetic screening technique using microarray chips that provides a new approach to diagnosing and treating acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The test is more than 95% accurate in diagnosing the known ALL subtypes and can identify new prognostic details.


 The Integrated Research Center opens, housing 10 floors of research facilities.

Richard Webby, PhD, and Robert Webster, PhD

Using a reverse genetics system devised at St. Jude, scientists create a harmless version of avian influenza to be used as the master seed for vaccine manufacturing. The team produces a vaccine in only four weeks.


 A St. Jude study comparing long-term outcomes of children treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) shows that black children can do as well as white children if given equal access to the latest treatments.


 
Susan Sleep

St. Jude becomes the nation's first pediatric cancer research center to open a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) facility for producing vaccines, proteins, gene-based molecules and other biopharmaceuticals.


The hospital's sickle cell program is named one of 10 Comprehensive Sickle Cell Centers by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.


 Investigators discover numerous genes that alter their level of activity in characteristic patterns in response to specific chemotherapy treatments. The genes are identified in the leukemia cells of children undergoing chemotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

Dr. William E. Evans

Dr. William E. Evans becomes the hospital's fifth director and CEO.


A St. Jude study shows that conformal radiation kills tumors in children with the brain tumor ependymoma, while sparing normal tissues.


 A study of children and adults finds that leukemic cells of each major known prognostic subtype of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) have a specific signature of gene expression.


 
Michael Dyer, PhD

Investigators develop a laboratory model that closely mimics the human eye cancer retinoblastoma, giving scientists a way to test new therapies for this disease in the lab.


Charles Sherr, MD, PhD, Tumor Cell Biology chair, is elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.


 The acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) survival rate reaches 85%.


 
Memphis Grizzlies House

The Memphis Grizzlies House opens, providing short-term housing for St. Jude families.


 Researchers find that by detecting the presence of the ERBB2 protein in tumor samples, doctors might be able to predict which children with the brain tumor medulloblastoma will require alternative therapies.

Brenda Schulman, PhD

Brenda Schulman, PhD, of Structural Biology and Genetics and Tumor Cell Biology, is named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.


Researchers show that certain traits inherited from parents can reduce the effectiveness of some chemotherapy drugs in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). This finding enables clinicians to identify patients at high or low risk of relapsing.


Thomas Curran, PhD, Developmental Neurobiology's founding chair, is elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London.


Investigators discover that a specific pattern of gene expression in leukemic cells is linked to their resistance to anti-leukemic drugs. This finding helps to explain why standard therapies fail to cure about 20% of children with ALL.

Ching Hon-Pui, MD with St. Jude patient

St. Jude reports a 94% survival rate for patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), using therapy that does not include radiation.


St. Jude is named No. 1 on The Scientist's Best Places to Work in Academia list.


Researchers use gene expression profiling to discover five subtypes of medulloblastoma, which was previously thought to be one disease.


 
Amar Gajjar, MD with St. Jude patient

Improved treatment raises the survival rate of the brain tumor medulloblastoma to 85% for average-risk patients and 70% for high-risk patients. In average-risk patients, these rates are achieved while reducing the amount of radiation and length of chemotherapy following surgery.


Scientists demonstrate that a new, locally applied treatment for the eye cancer retinoblastoma greatly reduces the size of the tumor without causing the side effects common with standard chemotherapy.

Early St. Jude patient

Researchers discover previously unsuspected mutations that contribute to the formation of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The study generates worldwide excitement because it demonstrates a practical approach to screening large numbers of genes for mutations in order to identify unsuspected mutations in adult as well as pediatric cancers.


St. Jude is designated one of six Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a part of the National Institutes of Health.


 
Mary Relling, PharmD, with other researchers

Investigators report the discovery of inherited variations in certain genes that make children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) susceptible to the toxic side effects caused by chemotherapy medications.


Researchers show that a drug used for attention deficit disorder helps improve the attention, social skills and behavior of children treated for brain tumors and ALL.


Scientists discover that brain tumors arise from cancer stem cells that live within microscopic protective "niches" formed by blood vessels in the brain. Disrupting these niches is a promising strategy for eliminating the tumors and preventing them from re-growing.


 
Charles Sherr, MD, PhD, and Richard Williams, PhD

Investigators shed new light on why some children with an aggressive form of leukemia termed Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) do not benefit from treatment.


St. Jude researchers discover that a gene called BRCA2 plays a dual role in the developing nervous system, eliminating errors in the DNA of newly made copies of chromosomes and suppressing the onset of medulloblastoma.


The St. Jude LIFE study begins. This initiative is one of the most ambitious follow-up projects ever conceived. It aims to bring thousands of St. Jude cancer survivors back to the place where they were treated as children to study the long-term effects of their disease and its treatment.


 
Chili's Care Center

Chili's Care Center, a state-of-the-art research and clinical care building, opens to house major research initiatives in diagnostic and therapeutic radiology.


Scientists identify the specific cell that causes eye cancer, disproving a long-held theory. Researchers find that certain mutations enable specific cells in the retina to multiply and cause retinoblastoma.


 Investigators discover that a common housekeeping mechanism most cells use to keep their interiors healthy also helps immune system cells engulf and destroy germs.

Adnrew Davidoff, MD, in surgery

St. Jude physicians demonstrate that children with bilateral Wilms tumor, a cancer of the kidneys, can retain normal function in both kidneys by undergoing a procedure called bilateral nephron-sparing surgery, even when preoperative scans suggest that the tumors are inoperable.


Kay Kafe, the hospital's renovated and expanded cafeteria, opens. St. Jude purposefully has just one cafeteria for all patients, families, physicians and staff.


Peter Doherty, PhD, of Immunology is elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.


Investigators show how to predict if a child who is infected with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) while being treated for cancer or another catastrophic disease is at high risk for developing severe infection.


 
Hearing test

Researchers discover that the drug amifostine is effective in preventing deafness in children with localized medulloblastoma.


St. Jude is designated as a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center, making St. Jude the first and only cancer center solely focused on pediatric cancer to receive this distinction.


The first therapeutic monoclonal antibody produced by the Children's GMP, LLC, is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in clinical trials. The antibody is primarily produced to treat neuroblastoma.


Researchers find evidence that a series of genetic mutations work together to cause BCR-ABL1-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), an aggressive and often fatal form of leukemia. The researchers also find that loss of the IKZF1 gene accompanies the transformation of chronic myeloid leukemias to a life-threatening, acute stage.

Charles Mullighan, PhD, and Sheila Rochette

Scientists identify distinctive genetic changes that cause relapse in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).


Investigators discover in children with ALL scores of inherited genetic variations that clinicians might be able to use as guideposts for designing more effective chemotherapy for this cancer.


Parents magazine names St. Jude as the nation's No. 1 pediatric cancer care hospital.


 
Joseph Laver with patient

St. Jude receives a perfect score by the Joint Commission, a national organization that accredits health care organizations and programs in the United States.


Researchers identify mutations in the IKAROS gene that predict a high likelihood of relapse in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). By using a molecular test to identify this genetic marker, physicians should be better able to assign patients to appropriate therapies.


 
No Mo Chemo party

St. Jude announces that, with effective personalized chemotherapy, cranial irradiation can be safely omitted from the treatment of children with childhood ALL.


The most comprehensive analysis yet of the genome of childhood acute myeloid leukemia finds only a few mistakes in the genetic blueprint, suggesting the cancer arises from just a handful of missteps.


Mary Relling, PharmD, Pharmaceutical Sciences chair, and Michael Kastan, MD, PhD, then-director of the St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center, are elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.


 

Michelle Mosby, RN

Nurses and staff in the Intensive Care Unit are recognized by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses with the Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence. They will win the award again in 2010.


Scientists identify a subtype of acute T-lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) that is resistant to standard chemotherapy. Clinicians plan to use this new insight to diagnose T-ALL and to use bone marrow transplantation to more effectively treat it.


St. Jude scientists identify inherited variations in two genes, ARID5B and IKZF1, that account for 37% of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Variations in ARID5B might also influence patient responses to chemotherapy.


 Scientists who represent the hospital's interdisciplinary team studying ALL receive the American Association for Cancer Research's Team Science Award.

 

2010s

  

"The St. Jude Children's Research Hospital – Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project is the largest and most powerful single initiative in the history of St. Jude. This is an exciting time for St. Jude. But it's an even more exciting time for children worldwide."

– Dr. William E. Evans, St. Jude director and CEO, 2004-2014

 
Brennan Simkins

Just before Maggie Cupit was to embark on a college study program at St. Jude, doctors discovered that she had Ewing sarcoma. Instead of experiencing St. Jude as a student, she learned about it from a patient's perspective. "St. Jude is not a place of mourning," Maggie says. "It's a happy, positive place full of people all going through the same thing." She recently returned to the hospital—this time as a student.

Kip Guy, PhD

By screening a vast chemical library, an international team led by St. Jude identifies more than 1,100 compounds with confirmed activity against a deadly malaria parasite.


U.S. News & World Report names St. Jude as the nation's top children's cancer hospital in its Best Children's Hospitals rankings.


The most comprehensive analysis yet of childhood high-grade glioma finds significant differences in the molecular features underlying the pediatric and adult forms of the cancer. Investigators identify a gene named PDGFRA as unusually active in some of the childhood tumors.


 
St. Jude LIFE Study test

Scientists find that patients in recent eras, who likely received treatments tailored to risk status, are not only surviving their cancer, but are also less likely to die later of treatment-related complications.

Bone marrow transplant survival more than doubles for young, high-risk leukemia patients treated at St. Jude, with patients who lack genetically matched donors recording the most significant gains. The results are believed to be the best ever reported for leukemia patients undergoing bone marrow transplantation.


St. Jude is named one of the country's "100 Best Companies to Work For" by Fortune magazine, a designation that will be repeated in coming years.


 

Winfred Wang, MD, with patient

New research shows a drug commonly used to treat sickle cell anemia in adults reduces bouts of acute pain and a pneumonia-like illness, cuts hospitalization time and eases other symptoms of the disease in young patients.


 

Researchers tie a genetic variation characteristic of Native American ancestry to higher risk of relapse in young leukemia patients. Scientists find evidence that additional chemotherapy could eliminate the added risk.


 
Jinghui Zhang, PhD

Investigators working on the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project develop a dramatically better computer tool for finding the genetic missteps that fuel cancer.


For the sixth consecutive year, St. Jude is named as one of the top 10 institutions in the annual "Best Places to Work in Academia" list by The Scientist magazine.


Researchers identify promising new therapies for the brain tumor ependymoma. The drugs are found by screening 5,303 compounds for activity against the tumor.


 A study of gene therapy developed at St. Jude and University College London offers first proof that the treatment benefits adults with hemophilia B, reducing the need for clotting factor to prevent bleeds.

Jun Yang, PhD, and Heng Xu

Work at St. Jude identifies the genetic factors that make Hispanic children more likely to receive acute lymphoblastic leukemia diagnoses and die. 


 
St. Jude patient

Pediatric Cancer Genome Project investigators discover that early T-cell precursor ALL, a subtype of leukemia with a poor prognosis, is fueled by mutations in pathways distinctly different from a seemingly similar leukemia associated with a better outcome; the findings highlight a possible new strategy for treatment.


 
Suzanne Baker, PhD, with Basia Paugh

The Pediatric Cancer Genome Project discovers that nearly 80% of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma tumors have mutations in genes not previously tied to cancer.


 

St. Jude patient

Scientists working on the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project identify a fusion gene responsible for almost 30% of acute megakaryoblastic leukemia cases in children.


Discovery of the genetic basis of a high-risk subtype of acute lymphoblastic leukemia known as Philadelphia chromosome-like ALL (Ph-like ALL) shows some patients might benefit from existing targeted therapies, advancing the goal of curing all children with the most common childhood cancer.


 
PCGP researchers

Researchers in the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project discover missteps in three of the four subtypes of medulloblastoma that involve genes already targeted for drug development.


To speed progress against cancer and other diseases, the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project announces the largest-ever release of comprehensive human cancer genome data for free access by the global scientific community. 


 
Monika Metzger, MD, with patient

A St. Jude-led study omitting radiation from treatment of children with Hodgkin lymphoma maintains survival rates while reducing chances of treatment side effects, including the risk of second cancers.


The Pediatric Cancer Genome Project and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center discover the first gene alteration associated with patient age and neuroblastoma outcome.


 
St. Jude patient family

Equal access to care at St. Jude has helped close the survival gap for young African-American cancer patients. While racial disparities in childhood cancer survival rates continue nationwide, a St. Jude study suggests that equal access to care results in equally good outcomes.


 Pediatric Cancer Genome Project findings help solve the mystery of retinoblastoma’s rapid growth; the study yields a new treatment target and possible therapy. 

James Downing, MD

James R. Downing, MD, St. Jude scientific director, deputy director and executive vice president, is elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.


 
Michael Dyer, PhD

The Pediatric Cancer Genome Project study identifies drugs that enhance oxidative stress as a possible weapon against rhabdomyosarcoma, the most common pediatric soft tissue tumor. 


 
Former patient Emily Land

A St. Jude study finds that young adults who had cancer as children are more likely to be frail than their peers; this condition leaves survivors at increased risk of death and chronic disease.


 St. Jude investigators prove that an immune marker predicts transplant success and improves selection of bone marrow donors


Frailty test

A St. Jude study identifies the need for proactive, life-long medical follow-up for cancer survivors; the study provides the most complete health picture yet of adult survivors of childhood cancer.


 
Michael Dyer, PhD

Michael Dyer, PhD, of St. Jude Developmental Neurobiology, is named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.


 
Jinghui Zhang. PhD and David Ellison, PhD

The Pediatric Cancer Genome Project identifies mutations responsible for more than half of a subtype of low-grade gliomas. Researchers also find evidence the tumors are susceptible to drugs already in development.


 
Charles Sherr, MD, PhD

Charles Sherr, MD, PhD, chair of St. Jude Tumor Cell Biology, is named an American Association for Cancer Research Academy Fellow.


 
J. Paul Taylor, MD, PhD

St. Jude ties mutations in two genes to the death of motor neurons associated with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and other devastating neurodegenerative problems


 
St. Jude patient at statue

St. Jude is named one of the best cancer care hospitals in the country by Parents magazine.


The Pediatric Cancer Genome Project takes a new approach to measuring the repetitive DNA at the end of chromosomes, which opens a new window on mechanisms fueling cancer

Armita Bahrami, MD, Xiang Chen, PhD, and Michael Dyer, PhD,

The Pediatric Cancer Genome Project and Institut Curie-Inserm collaborate to identify frequent mutations in two genes that often occur together in Ewing sarcoma and that define a subtype of the cancer associated with reduced survival.


Gene therapy pioneered by St. Jude, University College London and the Royal Free Hospital provides men with hemophilia B reliable relief from the bleeding disorder, paving the way for more active lifestyles


 
Patient Hannah

St. Jude researchers identify a promising new triple-drug combination therapy that exploits DNA repair problem in Ewing sarcoma tumors, leading to clinical trials for this treatment.


 
James Downing, MD, with St. Jude patients

James R. Downing, MD, is named the hospital’s sixth president and chief executive officer.


 
Brenda Schulman, PhD

Brenda Schulman, PhD, of St. Jude Structural Biology and Tumor Cell Biology, is elected to the National Academy of Sciences.


 
Brain scan

The Pediatric Cancer Genome Project offers new leads to improved outcomes for children with high-grade glioma brain tumors, particularly the youngest patients.


Scientists working in the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project discover that the TP53 gene is altered in nearly all osteosarcomas; results help explain how tumors withstand radiation therapy.


 
Ependymoma cells by David Ellison, PhD

The Pediatric Cancer Genome Project identifies the most common genetic alteration yet in the brain tumor ependymoma; results offer clues for fighting other cancers


 
Kim Nichols, MD, with patient

St. Jude creates the Cancer Predisposition Program to evaluate and take care of children who are at increased genetic risk for cancer.

Jinghui Zhang, PhD

St. Jude researchers develop ProteinPaint, a powerful interactive tool to mine data from the cancer genome.


 
St. Jude Proton Beam Therapy Center

St. Jude opens the world’s first proton therapy center dedicated solely to children with cancer.


 
Brendan Obioha with his mother

The Pediatric Cancer Genome Project finds that 8.5% of children with cancer have mutations in genes associated with cancer predisposition. The study suggests that comprehensive genomic screening may be warranted on all pediatric cancer patients, not just those with family histories of cancer.


 
Magnet Status

St. Jude receives designated Magnet status by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Only 7% of all U.S. hospitals have this designation.


 
Greg Armstrong, MD

Evidence from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study suggests that changes in childhood cancer treatment have reduced deaths from the late effects of cancer treatment and extended the lives of childhood cancer survivors. 


 
J. Paul Taylor, MD, PhD

J. Paul Taylor, MD, PhD, St. Jude Cell and Molecular Biology chair, is named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.


 
DNA strand

St. Jude scientists develop a new computer tool to find DNA duplications and deletions that play pivotal roles in adult and childhood cancers; the tool is free to researchers worldwide. 


 

St. Jude exterior

St. Jude opens a seventh affiliate clinic, the St. Jude Affiliate Clinic at Novant Health Hemby Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina.


 
Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti, PhD

St. Jude scientists identify a protein that offers a new focus for developing targeted therapies to tame the severe inflammation associated with multiple sclerosis, colitis and other autoimmune disorders.


St. Jude scientists identify key molecules that trigger the immune system to launch an attack on the bacterium causing tularemia, a highly infectious disease that kills more than 30% of those infected.


 
Ching-Hon Pui, MD

Investigators report measuring leukemia cells that persist in patient bone marrow in the early weeks of treatment helps identify high-risk patients. A St. Jude clinical trial is the first to use measurement of residual leukemia cells – or minimal residual disease (MRD) – in bone marrow to help guide therapy.


Researchers map “genomic landscape” of childhood adrenocortical tumors for the first time; findings could help clinicians identify most malignant subtypes and lead to better treatment. 


 
James Downing, MD and Tanha Gruber, MD, PhD

The Pediatric Cancer Genome Project reports that a highly aggressive form of leukemia in infants has surprisingly few mutations beyond the chromosomal rearrangement that affects the MLL gene; targeting the alteration is likely the key to improved survival.


 
St. Jude exterior

St. Jude is recognized for the fifth year in a row as one of Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For.” 


 

Alberto Pappo, MD

The Pediatric Cancer Genome Project finds that melanoma in some adolescent and adult patients involves many of the same genetic alterations and would likely respond to the same therapy.


Kris Crews, PhD, Barthelomy Diouf, PhD, William Evans, PharmD

Researchers identify the first genetic variation associated with increased risk and severity of peripheral neuropathy following treatment with a widely used anti-cancer drug.