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Kun retires after 32 years at St. Jude

With an academic and clinical career spanning more than 40 years, Larry Kun, MD, St. Jude executive vice president and clinical director, has affected the lives of countless children, spearheaded the creation of one of the most successful pediatric brain tumor treatment programs in the country and advanced the field of radiation oncology.

Kun began his medical training with a degree from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and a residency at Penrose Cancer Hospital in Colorado Springs, Colorado. From there, he served as a clinical associate at the National Cancer Institute, and later as an assistant radiotherapist at the Rotterdam Radiotherapy Institute in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Before joining St. Jude, he was on the faculty at the University of Vermont College of Medicine and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

In 1984, Kun joined St. Jude to establish a department that would specialize in treating childhood cancer using sophisticated radiation therapy. Under his leadership, the Radiation Oncology Department grew from treating 12 patients a year into one of the largest programs worldwide, seeing between 150 and 180 patients annually from around the world. With establishment of the brain tumor program, St. Jude partnered with Le Bonheur Children's Hospital to fulfill the neurosurgery component of treatment, forming one of the Mid-South's most successful medical collaborations.

"When I joined St. Jude, I looked forward to becoming part of a team of dedicated, bright individuals who were committed to expanding the horizons of treatment and research," Kun said. "Teamwork and collaboration were as important then as they are today—when technological and scientific advancements have significantly changed the way that we find cures and save children."

In 2013, Kun was named clinical director and executive vice president. In that position, he has guided clinical care and has overseen clinical operations, clinical effectiveness practices and patient care quality programs. His responsibilities have included developing patient care policies, managing physicians—including consulting physicians and other clinical staff—as well as planning and managing clinical space and systems.

"I've been fortunate to be a part of the hospital's efforts as a world leader in both the research and treatment of pediatric catastrophic diseases. It's been an honor to oversee the wonderful efforts of our clinical care delivery programs throughout these years at St. Jude," he said.

Kun's honors include the Gold Medal from the American Society for Radiation Oncology; the Pediatric Oncology Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology; the Janeway Medal from the American Radium Society; and the Pioneer Award from the Children's Brain Tumor Foundation. Kun is a founding member of the Alliance for Childhood Cancer and has published more than 420 journal articles.