Leadership and Staff

Our leadership team, staff and faculty work together to help training future leaders in the lab and in the clinic. We develop inquisitive researchers probing the molecular basis of disease and therapy. We equip medical practitioners with cutting-edge knowledge to conduct clinical and translational research and work to improve health care systems worldwide. 

  • Stephen White, DPhil

    President and Dean

    Member, St. Jude Faculty

    Email: stephen.white@stjude.org

    Stephen White is from London, England and obtained his BSc in Biochemistry from Bristol University and his DPhil in Molecular Biophysics from Oxford University. Following postdoctoral fellowships at Oxford and the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, he moved to Brookhaven National Laboratory as a staff biophysicist in 1984. In 1990, he moved to Duke University Medical Center as an Associate Professor, and in 1996 was recruited to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to establish the Department of Structural Biology. In 2015, he was asked to establish the new St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. He now serves as the first Dean of the school.  His wife, Dr. Miguela Caniza, is an infectious disease clinician at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and a faculty member of the Graduate School and the Department of Global Pediatric Medicine.

  • Suzanne Baker, PhD

    Associate Dean, Biomedical Sciences PhD Program

    Member, St. Jude Faculty

    Director, Brain Tumor Research Division

    Email: suzanne.baker@stjude.org

    Suzanne Baker earned her PhD in Molecular Biology and Human Genetics from The Johns Hopkins University. After postdoctoral training at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology, she joined the faculty at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

    Her research is directed toward understanding normal and cancerous growth in the brain, with a specific focus on the underlying molecular, cellular and genetic mechanisms driving high-grade gliomas (HGG) in children. Ongoing studies are directed toward understanding how disrupted development and chromatin dysregulation contributes to the pathogenesis of HGG. Her work incorporates in vivo and in vitro model systems for mechanistic studies as well as preclinical testing of selective therapies.

    Suzanne directs the Division of Brain Tumor Research and is the Associate Director for Basic Research and the Co-Leader of the Neurobiology and Brain Tumor Program in the St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center. She holds the Brain Tumor Research endowed chair at St. Jude.

  • Shaloo Puri, MBBS, DTCD, MPH, MPA

    Associate Dean, Global Child Health MSc Program

    Director, Global Graduate Studies, Department of Global Pediatric Medicine

    Email: shaloo.puri@stjude.org

    Shaloo Puri is a global health leader with 26 years of experience of transformational impact in complex multi- sectoral settings at country and global levels. She has held leadership positions in organizations including Harvard University, World Economic Forum and World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with USAID, Global Fund, Gates Foundation, World Bank, other development and UN agencies, public and private sectors. She is known to be a distinguished thought leader with expertise in policy research and analysis, and in creating and leading innovative educational programs and multi-stakeholder partnerships across the spectrum of global health and health systems.

    She earned her medical degree and postgraduate specialization in Respiratory Diseases from India. Subsequently she did a MPH from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and went on to do a MPA and a fellowship in Public Policy and Management from the Kennedy School at Harvard University. In July 2018, Shaloo moved to St. Jude from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where she headed the Doctor of Public Health Program. She now leads the Master of Science in Global Child Health Program and the St. Jude Global Scholars Program of the Department of Global Pediatric Medicine, providing transformative education to future change agents and child health leaders. 

  • Patricia Flynn, MD

    Associate Dean, Clinical Investigations MSc Program

    Member, St. Jude Faculty

    Senior Vice President and Medical Director of Quality and Patient Care

    Deputy Clinical Director

    Email: pat.flynn@stjude.org

    Pat Flynn earned her BS at Rhodes College in Memphis and her MD at Louisiana State University Medical Center. She did her pediatric residency at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center/Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center and her fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Le Bonheur and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. She earned a Master of Science in Epidemiology from UTHSC.  Patricia began working in the HIV/AIDS program at St. Jude in 1988. The program provides comprehensive care for infants, children and adolescents with HIV infection and is the site of several clinical trials networks making new interventions and treatments available to its patients.  She has played an active role in the development and conducted numerous clinical trials for HIV and other infectious diseases.

  • Victor M. Santana, MD

    Associate Dean, Clinical Investigations MSc Program

    Member, St. Jude Faculty

    Email: victor.santana@stjude.org

    Victor M. Santana is from Puerto Rico where he obtained his undergraduate and medical degree from the Catholic University and the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, respectively. He subsequently obtained specialty training in Pediatrics and in Hematology-Oncology at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1984, he joined the faculty at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital where he has contributed in many roles as physician, clinical researcher and administratively as a Division Chief for Solid Malignancies, Chair of the Institutional Review Board and as past Senior Vice President for Clinical Trials Administration and Associate Director for Clinical Research in the St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center. Presently he directs the Global Research Unit in the St. Jude Global Alliance.

  • Stacey L. Schultz-Cherry, PhD

    Associate Dean, Student Affairs

    Member, St. Jude Faculty

    Deputy Director, World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Studies on the Ecology of Influenza in Animals and Birds

    Email: stacey.schultz-cherry@stjude.org

    Stacey Schultz-Cherry, PhD is a Full Member (Professor) in the Department of Infectious Diseases at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN where she serves as the Co-Director for the NIAID-funded Center for Excellence in Influenza Research and Response (CEIRR) and Co-Director for the NIAID-funded Collaborative Influenza Vaccine Innovation Center (CIVIC). She received her PhD in Molecular and Cellular Pathology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and did postdoctoral training in influenza virology at the University of Wisconsin. Before joining the faculty at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in 2009, she was a tenured Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Schultz-Cherry is recognized internationally for her studies on the pathogenesis influenza and enteric viruses in high risk populations and influenza at the animal-human interface. Dr. Schultz-Cherry is the author and co-author of over 200 research articles, reviews and book chapters, is the past President of the American Society for Virology, and the current chair of the Public and Scientific Affairs Committee for the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). 

  • Tomalei Vess, PhD

    Assistant Dean, Biomedical Sciences PhD program

    Email: tomalei.vess@stjude.org

    Tomalei brings 20 years of higher education experience to the PhD program at St. Jude.  She is a student and faculty centered professional whose career has focused on educational access, diversity, and excellence. A first-generation college student, Tomalei earned a bachelor's degree in biology from James Madison University, where she conducted research for three years, an endeavor that changed her career path from medicine to research and teaching. She received her Ph.D. in biology from Duke University. After serving as a consultant for Duke's Women's Initiative, Vess joined the faculty at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, a residential public high school within the University of North Carolina system. She then returned to Duke as assistant dean in the Graduate School, running summer undergraduate research programs, Ph.D. student recruitment and retention initiatives, and programs supporting the overall development of doctoral students. Vess’s focus on student development and research experience as means to promote student success continued in Duke’s interdisciplinary research Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy, Virginia Tech, and Penn State. 

    Tomalei enjoys cycling, kayaking, running, and hanging out with her beagles, Abby and Boh. She has close ties to southwest Virginia and Appalachia, where her mother and brother live. 

  • Julie Laveglia, MA

    Assistant Dean, Global Child Health MSc Program

    Email: julie.laveglia@stjude.org

    Julie brings more than 15 years in the field of international education to her role at St. Jude, starting her career teaching English through the JET Program outside of Kyoto, Japan. Julie then returned to the U.S. to work at New York University with its Center for Global Affairs and NYU-in-Paris program. Afterward, Julie worked on the International Human Resources team at Lehman Brothers.

    She pivoted back to higher education and moved to Boston to work in the LASPAU Office of Harvard University, where she was primarily responsible for advising graduate-level Fulbright grantees from Central and South America. Most recently, Julie worked in the Overseas Programs division at Washington University in St. Louis where she worked closely with students, faculty, and university partners in East and South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

    Julie was born and raised outside of Philadelphia in Southern New Jersey. She received her bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Environmental Science from Boston College. While an undergrad, she studied abroad at the Universidad de Sevilla. Julie received her master’s degree in International Education from New York University. While a graduate student, she interned with the Sister City Program within the New York City Commission to the United Nations. Julie is currently pursuing her Doctor of Education degree from the University of Memphis, with a concentration in higher and adult education.

    At St. Jude, Julie works with the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in collaboration with the St. Jude Department of Global Pediatric Medicine on the design, implementation, management and evaluation of the Master of Science in Global Child Health program and postgraduate capstone projects. Together these initiatives form the Global Scholars program, which offers students a transformative education needed to enhance the treatment and care of childhood cancers and catastrophic illnesses in an evolving world.

  • Sally Utech, PhD

    Assistant Dean, Clinical Investigations MSc Program

    Email: sally.utech@stjude.org

    Sally began her work in higher education administration while completing a PhD at the University of Kansas (KU). At KU, she worked in pre-award and grants administration, specializing in facilitating large-scale collaborative and multi-institutional proposals. She then served as the associate director and eventually acting director of the Hall Center for the Humanities, a research and public humanities center on the KU campus. Sally served as a co-PI on a National Endowment for the Humanities Next Generation Humanities PhD grant.

    Sally came to St. Jude in 2017, serving as the clinical fellow recruiter for the Clinical Education and Training Office. After three and a half years working in St. Jude’s graduate medical education environment, she was appointed as the inaugural Assistant Dean for the Master’s of Science in Clinical Investigations program. 

  • Dayna Baker

    Operations Coordinator

    Email: dayna.baker@stjude.org

    Dayna Baker joined the St. Jude Department of Virology & Molecular Biology in 1987, working directly with the chair, Robert Webster, PhD, and providing administrative support to the faculty. Following 10 successful years, she transferred to the Department of Structural Biology where she oversaw the expansion of the new program with chair Stephen White, D.Phil. As the departmental administrator, Dayna has coordinated diverse projects including faculty recruitment, grant submissions, budgets, capital equipment purchases and service contracts. She joins the new St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences as the Senior Administrator.

  • Tiffany Young-Polk, MA

    Registrar

    Email: tiffany.young-polk@stjude.org

    Tiffany Young-Polk has worked in higher education for 14 years at Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee, where she served as the Assistant to the Director of Information Technology, Associate Registrar and Director of Veterans Affairs. She also served on the Student Veteran Center Resource Team, the Enrollment Management Committee and the Fifth Year Review Committee.  During her time at Lane College, Tiffany led key projects including the opening of a Student Veteran Center and the redesign of the institution’s degrees. She also assisted in the setup and configuration of the institution’s student information and learning management systems.

    Tiffany joined the St. Jude Graduate School as Registrar in October 2016. She is responsible for services in the area of enrollment, academic record keeping, and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS COC) Accreditation.