The discoveries, concepts and promise
of curing sickle cell disease

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.

 

1958

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St. Jude presents Lemuel Diggs, MD with a $10,000 grant for his work on sickle cell disease. Diggs subsequently publishes the first comprehensive study of sickle cell disease and its impact on the African-American population.

 

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.

 

1977

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St. Jude launches the first major effort to understand the lifelong progression of sickle cell disease.

 
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1983

St. Jude patient Kimberlin Wilson-George makes medical history becoming the first sickle cell patient in the world to be to be cured with a bone marrow transplant.

 

2003

St. Jude’s sickle cell program is named one of 10 Comprehensive Sickle Cell Centers by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

 
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2011

Sickle cell pioneer Winfred Wang, MD, of St. Jude Hematology, leads nationwide research to advance the use of hydroxyurea in children -- currently the only approved drug for the treatment of sickle cell disease.

 

2015

“We must do what others cannot do.”

St. Jude President and CEO Dr. James Downing unveils a bold plan for saving the lives of children around the globe — extending clinical research for sickle cell beyond symptom management to cures. 

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