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John Crispino named to head the Division of Experimental Hematology at St. Jude

Crispino’s research focuses on acute leukemia in children with Down syndrome and blood cell development

Memphis, Tennessee, August 13, 2020

Researcher in lab coat smiling while looking forward.

John Crispino, Ph.D., is named the new the Division of Experimental Hematology director at St. Jude

John Crispino, Ph.D., has joined St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as director of the Division of Experimental Hematology and member of the Department of Hematology.

Over the last 20 years, Crispino has advanced the understanding of normal blood cell development and numerous blood diseases. He joined St. Jude in June and holds the Wall Street Committee Endowed Chair. He will lead the current team of laboratory-based hematology investigators who study the basic science of blood formation; mechanisms of blood cell gene expression; genome editing; and numerous blood diseases, including sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, aplastic anemia and myelodysplastic syndrome. He will provide mentorship for junior faculty and expand the program by recruiting new faculty.

Crispino’s research focuses on the biology of red blood cells and megakaryocytes (blood cells that produce platelets, which are responsible for blood clotting); the genetic changes that lead to acute leukemia in children with Down syndrome; and the development of novel, targeted therapies for children with blood disorders. Before joining St. Jude, he was professor of Medicine and the associate director of Education and Training of the Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern University in Chicago.

Crispino’s group has made groundbreaking discoveries on the genetic alterations that cause leukemia in children with Down syndrome, who experience increased susceptibility to acute myeloid leukemia within the first few years of life and B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia later in childhood.

“We’ve studied both cancers, and our main interest is in figuring out why Down syndrome predisposes to cancer and perhaps use this information to develop prevention measures and better treatments,” Crispino said. “The last thing families of children with Down syndrome need is for their child to develop leukemia.” He hopes to continue and expand this work at St. Jude by collaborating with members of the Department of Oncology and the Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“We are very lucky to have recruited Dr. Crispino” said Mitchell Weiss, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Hematology at St. Jude. “He is an absolutely top-notch hematology researcher who will expand the repertoire of our department, enhance the reputation of St. Jude and help our patients by developing insights into pediatric myelodysplastic syndrome and leukemia, which will lead to better treatments.”

James R. Downing, M.D., president and CEO of St. Jude, said that adding Crispino is a strong step forward for the Department of Hematology.

“With the success of gene therapy in treating X-linked combined immunodeficiency and the potential advancement of sickle cell disease treatment, the Department of Hematology is building on an already stellar reputation,” Downing said. “Dr. Crispino has the scientific and administrative skills needed to continue this record of excellence in laboratory research, while bridging both non-malignant and malignant hematology research and treatment teams at St. Jude.”

Crispino earned his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He earned his undergraduate degree from Washington University, where he was magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He is an active member of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) and an associate editor of Blood, the journal published by ASH.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and cures childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to 80% since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude freely shares the breakthroughs it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. To learn more, visit or follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.