St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital CEO announces retirement

Memphis, Tennessee, September 16, 2013

Dr. William E. Evans, Director and CEO, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Dr. William E. Evans will retire from executive post in July 2014.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital today announced that its director and CEO, Dr. William E. Evans, has decided to retire from his executive post in July of 2014. Evans has been with the organization for more than 40 years and has served as CEO for the past 10 years.

“Under Dr. Evans’ leadership, we have achieved the best outcomes worldwide for the most frequent forms of childhood cancer, launched an $85 million effort to identify the genomic drivers of the most aggressive childhood cancers, and expanded our facilities by more than 500,000 square feet,” said Terry Burman, chairman of the St. Jude Board of Governors. “His significant contributions have made an indelible mark on our history, resulting not only in improved survival for children with cancer, but in better long-term quality of life.”

An expert in pharmacogenomics, Evans came to St. Jude as a student in 1972. “I learned from true pioneers and was given boundless opportunity to excel in an environment where collaboration and innovation are the norm,” said Evans. “My leadership philosophy has been a simple one: Stay on mission and make St. Jude a place where great people can do their best work.”

Evans said his decade of service reflects a pattern at St. Jude that contributes to its success. “I believe a dynamic, best-of-class organization like St. Jude benefits from new leadership every 10 years to sustain the energy needed to lead the fight against pediatric cancer and other devastating diseases. Indeed, this has been our track record, with five CEOs in our first 51 years.”

The St. Jude Board of Governors will conduct an international search to select Evans’ successor, and the process will include potential internal and external candidates. While Evans is expected to leave the CEO position next summer, he has agreed to serve until his successor is on board.

“Our mission of finding cures and saving children has been constant for our 51-year history,” said Burman. “The eight-person leadership cabinet under Dr. Evans has a combined total of 174 years of service to St. Jude. These factors, combined with the ample notice provided by Dr. Evans, will ensure continuity and a smooth transition.”

During Evans’ service as CEO, St. Jude announced the best worldwide cure rate for the most common form of childhood cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia. St. Jude also was the first to remove cranial radiation from standard treatment of this disease, reducing harmful long-term health risks.

The largest-ever investment in whole-genome sequencing of childhood cancers was launched by St. Jude under Evans’ leadership. This initiative has produced significant research advances in aggressive childhood leukemias, brain tumors and common solid tumors in children. All of the resulting genome sequence data is made available for free access by the global scientific community.

St. Jude has been a consistent presence on the Fortune Magazine list of the annual “100 Best Companies to Work For,” as well as the top 10 “Best Places to Work in Academia” as ranked by The Scientist magazine.

Evans’ expertise in developing individualized approaches to childhood cancer treatment will continue to benefit St. Jude. He will continue to lead his research laboratory at St. Jude after his retirement from the CEO position.

“Like most scientists, I have a deep and abiding passion for discovery,” he said. “Sustaining my NIH-funded research program throughout my tenure as CEO made me a better CEO for St. Jude, and I am now eager to return full time to pursue several recent findings from our lab.”

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands treats and defeats childhood cancer. St. Jude has the world’s best survival rates for the most aggressive childhood cancers, and families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing, or food. Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push overall childhood cancer survival rates from 20 percent to 80 percent since it opened 50 years ago, and won’t stop until no child dies from cancer. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children.

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A decade of progress

The following are highlights of St. Jude accomplishments during this time:

  • Announced a cure rate exceeding 90 percent for the most common childhood leukemia, the best outcome worldwide.
  • Announced a cure rate exceeding 70 percent for the most common malignant brain tumor in children, the best outcome among national cooperative studies.
  • Published more than 6,000 discoveries in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Launched the largest-ever investment in whole-genome sequencing of childhood cancers. This $85 million initiative has produced significant advances in aggressive childhood leukemias, brain tumors, central nervous system tumors and eye tumors.
  • Announced the largest-ever release of comprehensive human cancer genome data for free access by the global scientific community.
  • Was the first in the nation to remove cranial radiation therapy from standard treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, reducing harmful long-term health risks.
  • Documented equal cure rates for black and white children with cancer treated at St. Jude, despite a continued national gap in outcomes.
  • Discovered a genetic basis for higher risk and worse treatment response for Hispanic children with the most common form of childhood leukemia.
  • Launched a $198 million new construction project that will house the only proton therapy center dedicated solely to the treatment of children.
  • Secured designation by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center—the only one devoted solely to children—which recently received the top rating of “exceptional.”
  • Launched a new drug discovery program that has identified candidate drugs for treating the eye tumor retinoblastoma and candidates for new anti-malarial drugs.
  • Launched the largest U.S. program to understand the long-term effects of childhood cancer treatment and to improve quality of life for childhood cancer survivors.
  • Developed programs that have made St. Jude a consistent presence on the Fortune Magazineannual “100 Best Companies to Work For” list, and consistently in the top 10 “Best Places to Work in Academia” by The Scientist magazine.

St. Jude Media Relations Contact

Summer Freeman
(desk) (901) 595-3061
(cell) (901) 297-9861