Sunrise comes up over the St. Jude campus
 

Creating the future

 
 

ALSAC President and CEO, Richard C. Shadyac Jr. remembers the advances made throughout the 50+ year history of St. Jude, and writes of the incredible discoveries yet to be made.

 
 

On a February morning in 1962, more than 9,000 people gathered at the doors of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to get a glimpse of something special — the future.

That future is today.

It’s the St. Jude—Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project, , which, since 2010, has mapped the whole genome of more than 10,400 pediatric cancer patients or survivors and more than 800 pediatric sickle cell patients.

It’s the St. Jude Cloud, an online data-sharing and collaboration platform containing more than 55 years of data, including 10,000 genomes of pediatric patients and survivors. Already, more than 50,000 users from around the world have freely accessed that data to further lifesaving research.

Visualization of the interactive interphase within the St. Jude Cloud platform

The St. Jude Cloud platform provides innovative, interactive visualizations from genomic data.

It’s the $412 million, 625,000-square-foot advanced research center, currently under construction and part of a multi-billion dollar expansion, to include state-of-the-art labs for immunology, neurobiology, cell and molecular biology, gene editing, metabolomics, advanced microscopy, epigenetics, genomics, immunotherapy and RNA biology.

We’re confident research conducted in these labs will bring great leaps in science leading to better treatment, more cures and, thankfully, many more survivors.

And it’s the most powerful Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer in the world, installed at St. Jude just last month, which will allow researchers to see farther into cells than ever before in an effort to answer the most challenging biological questions.

The NMR is the centerpiece of the department’s expansion, which is being led by Charalampos “Babis” Kalodimos, Ph.D., department chair

The NMR is the centerpiece of the expansion of the Structural Biology Department, which is being led by Charalampos “Babis” Kalodimos, Ph.D., department chair.

 
 

Such technology was the stuff of science fiction when Danny Thomas lifted a veil from the 15-foot statue of St. Jude Thaddeus, which still stands today as a beacon for hope at the entrance of St. Jude. On that day in 1962, something else very special was taking shape as well — a community.

The 9,000 gathered were the seeds for a community that, today, is made up of more than 11 million donors and 1 million volunteers. It’s made up of doctors, researchers and nurses from around the world, and of families who look up at the St. Jude statue to see something they might never have without all of you — a future.

A crowd of 9,000 gathered on a February day in Memphis, Tenn. to celebrate the opening of St. Jude

A crowd of 9,000 gathered on a February day in Memphis, Tenn. to celebrate the opening of St. Jude

I talk with parents all the time who say, even though they don’t know the supporters who so generously give to St. Jude from all around the world, they nevertheless feel your compassion and love. You also give them a critical sense of community; a foundation from which hope springs.

These are families like Merri and Stephen, whose son, Josiah, was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor at just 6 months old. He came to St. Jude to be treated with state-of-the-art technology. Yet, despite all of our advancements and knowledge, months and years of treatment can be a time of despair and hopelessness for any mom and dad.

But what these young parents found at St. Jude was community. Merri found three moms whose sons were being treated for the same disease and was embraced with familiarity and understanding. Stephen leaned on his community of podcast professionals and recently held the first “podcastathon” — Relay FM for St. Jude. This amazing group of content creators and their devoted fans raised more than $300,000 for the institution that saved Josiah’s life.

Co-founder Stephen Hackett's son Josiah was treated at St. Jude. He's giving back to the hospital with a podcastathon hosted on the St. Jude campus.

Stephen Hackett (left) is the dad of a St. Jude patient, and hosted the first "podcastathon" to raise more than $300,000 for St. Jude.

Over the more than five decades St. Jude has been treating kids from all over the world, the technology has improved beyond anything we could have imagined; science fiction turned fact.

Genome therapy and superconducting magnets may not have existed in 1962, but a selfless and compassionate community did and it has become a life force. I look forward to tomorrow — and what the future might bring — with all of you by our side.

 
 

Help our families focus on their sick child, not medical bills.

When you donate, your gift means families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live.

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