Ask Jared Isaacman what’s the most amazing place he’s been this year and he’ll surely say: Space.
But for the commander of Inspiration4, the historic flight into orbit with an all-civilian crew, a trip he took a couple of months after splashdown was transformative in its own ways. Isaacman visited St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the charitable beneficiary of Inspiration4, where he met patients and families, toured the hospital and talked with researchers, and deepened his appreciation of a place he’d always admired from afar.
“I think the most surprising part was actually on the research side,” said Isaacman, founder and chief executive officer of Shift4 Payments. “Because a big part of what our mission was about with Inspiration4 was kind of kicking the door open for all these interesting missions to follow, to go out and explore what we don’t know, looking outward.
“And what the scientists were telling us is, ‘Look, we’re doing the exact same thing except we’re looking inward. And there is a lot we don’t know there, too.’"
Astronauts and scientists. Spacecrafts and microscopes. Different means, but to similar means, really: It’s all about discovery and seeking answers.
“And who knows what we might learn there to make life better for humanity,” said Isaacman, who could have been speaking of space — or of the newly named Inspiration4 Advanced Research Center, a nine-story, 625,000-square-foot facility designed to foster scientific collaboration, and find cures, at St. Jude.
Isaacman was recently named a 2021 Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young LLP, which recognized both his business leadership and his philanthropic efforts: "He’s leaving the world a better place than when he found it — and when he returned to it."