The role of the St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Board of Trustees:
Steven J. Bares, PhD, joined the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Board of Trustees in 2015. Dr. Bares is the retired President and Executive Director of the Memphis Bioworks Foundation, a broad-based public/private partnership focused on the growth of bioscience research, education and commercialization. Coming from past executive roles in industry, Dr. Bares specializes in growth business management and new product development, and has led the development of more than 15 new technologies from concept through the entire technology development cycle for consumer and commercial markets. During his tenure, Bioworks operated a comprehensive program in technology commercialization comprised of incubation, mentoring, talent acquisition, and venture investing. He is co-founder of the Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering, a middle/high school for 700 Memphis inner city children. Dr. Bares has served on several community boards, has authored nine patents, and published numerous business-related articles. He recently retired from the Office of Research at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center as Associate Vice Chancellor of Research and Entrepreneurship. Dr. Bares holds a Ph.D. and MBA from Oregon State University, and a BSc from Cal Poly Humboldt.
William E. Troutt, PhD, joined the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Board of Trustees in 2015. Dr. Trout served as president of Rhodes College in Memphis, TN from 1999-2017. Prior to joining Rhodes, he served as President of Belmont University in Nashville from 1982-1999. During his tenure at Rhodes, Dr. Troutt established a strategic vision for the liberal arts college focusing on excellence both in the classroom and beyond the campus through student research, service, internship, and study-abroad opportunities. In 2001, Dr. Troutt and former St. Jude CEO Dr. William E. Evans established an academic partnership culminating in establishment of the St. Jude Summer Plus Fellowship and over 200 Rhodes students conducting intensive research with St Jude over the past two decades. Dr. Troutt led the establishment of the Turley Memphis Center at Rhodes in 2012 focusing on the human experience and creating social change in Memphis and the Mid-South region. A nationally recognized leader in education, Dr. Troutt has chaired the American Council on Education, the National Commission on the Cost of Higher Education, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship program, and has served on the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Commission, which made recommendations to Congress to dramatically increase the number of American undergraduates studying abroad. He has been named one of America's most effective college presidents, and in 2009 he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Vanderbilt University's Peabody College.
James R. Downing, MD, joined the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Board of Trustees in 2022. Dr. Downing is president and chief executive officer of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Dr. Downing earned his undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of Michigan. He joined St. Jude in 1986 after training in anatomic pathology at Washington University in St. Louis and completing a fellowship in hematopathology at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Prior to taking the helm of St. Jude, Dr. Downing served as the institution’s scientific and deputy director. He became the hospital’s sixth chief executive officer on July 15, 2014. For his work, Dr. Downing has received many honors, including election to the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Most recently, he was awarded the 2019 Pediatric Oncology Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the 2020 American Association for Cancer Research-St. Baldrick’s Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement in Pediatric Cancer Research.
Gabriel G. Haddad, MD, joined the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Board of Trustees in 2018. Dr. Haddad is the Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics and Neurosciences and the Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Vice Dean of Children’s Academic Affairs at the University of California, San Diego and Physician-in-Chief and Chief Scientific Officer at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. He earned his medical degree from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon and completed a pediatric residency at the University of Texas Medical Center and a pediatric pulmonary fellowship at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He stayed on the faculty at Columbia University for 10 years before he was recruited to Yale University to be Professor of Pediatrics and Cellular and Molecular Physiology and Division Chief of Respiratory Medicine at Yale New Haven Hospital. He has been at the University of California, San Diego, and Rady Children’s since 2005.
James E.K. Hildreth Sr., PhD, MD, joined the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Board of Trustees in 2017. As president and CEO of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee since 2015, he leads the nation’s largest private historically Black academic health sciences center. Dr. Hildreth holds an MD from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, a PhD from Oxford University and a BA from Harvard University where he graduated as a Rhodes scholar. A world-class infectious disease expert, Hildreth’s ability to explain complex science to laypersons made him a national figure during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, he was appointed to the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee and in 2021, he was named to President Joseph Biden’s Health Equity Task Force. Dr. Hildreth spent 23 years at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine as student, postdoc, professor and associate dean and served as dean of the College of Biological Sciences at University of California, Davis. His HIV research resulted in 11 patents and international recognition for several key discoveries. Dr. Hildreth was elected to the National Academy of Medicine and has received numerous awards and recognition for his accomplishments, leadership and service.
Sarah C. Larsen, PhD, joined the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Board of Trustees in 2023. Dr. Larsen is the Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School and a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Houston (UH). Dr. Larsen earned her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Mathematics from Bowdoin College and her PhD in Chemistry from Harvard University. She was a Department of Energy Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley in the Department of Chemical Engineering and at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. She was on the faculty and in administrative roles at the University of Iowa for 23 years before moving to the University of Houston in 2018 where she oversees all graduate and professional programs. She has served as chair of the Association of Texas Graduate Schools (2021), as a member of the Graduate Education Committee for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (2018-20) and she is currently a member of the Council of Graduate Schools Advancement Advisory Committee (2023-present).
Carolyn L. Smith, PhD, joined the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Board of Trustees in 2024. Dr. Smith is a Professor of Molecular & Cellular Biology and holder of the William R Brinkley BRASS Chair at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Smith earned her PhD from the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada and completed her postdoctoral training in steroid receptor action at Baylor College of Medicine. She joined the faculty following her fellowship leading the work of her NIH-funded laboratory focused on the molecular pharmacology of sex steroids. Dr. Smith began her work in academic administration in 2005 culminating in her current roles as Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Vice-President of Education Affairs at Baylor College of Medicine.
J. Paul Taylor, MD, PhD, joined the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Board of Trustees in 2022. Dr. Taylor is Executive Vice President and Scientific Director at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Dr. Taylor holds the Edward F. Barry Endowed Chair in Cell and Molecular Biology and serves as Chair of the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology and Director of the St. Jude Pediatric Translational Neuroscience Initiative.
Steven M. Varga, PhD, joined the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Board of Trustees in 2023 as an ex officio member. Dr. Varga is an Endowed Chair and Dean of the St. Jude Graduate School as well as a Full Member in the Department of Infectious Diseases at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Dr. Varga received his Ph.D. in Immunology and Virology from the University of Massachusetts Medical Center and served as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Virginia. Prior to assuming the role of Dean in January of 2023, Dr. Varga spent nearly 20 years as a faculty member at the University of Iowa where he was the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Graduate Student Development in the Graduate College from 2019-2023. He was also a Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology with a secondary appointment in Department of Pathology within the Carver College of Medicine. Dr. Varga also served as Director of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Immunology at the University of Iowa from 2013-2018.