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Erica Sirrine named director of Social Work at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Grief and bereavement expert with years of building social work programs in academia will direct a growing program at St. Jude

Memphis, Tennessee, June 7, 2021

Woman in a pink jacket and black shirt smiling at camera.

Erica Sirrine, Ph.D., has been named the director of Social Work at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Clinical social worker, grief expert and university dean Erica Sirrine, Ph.D., has been named the director of Social Work at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

For the past 14 years, Sirrine has worked in higher education, most recently serving as dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. She also served on faculty at Southeastern as well as Warner University. Prior to academia, Sirrine worked as an administrator and clinical social worker in a hospice center and hospital, focusing in areas of grief and bereavement.

“I’ve been in the academic world for over a decade, so returning to a health care setting is like coming home. I’m grateful to be at St. Jude, the leader in providing treatment to children with catastrophic illnesses,” Sirrine said. “I’m going to have an opportunity to learn and grow here, and I hope to make a difference in the lives of our patients and families, as well as the team of social workers at St. Jude.”

Members of the Social Work Department at St. Jude provide families with counseling, support and education. The team helps parents and patients understand illness and treatments, and they have specific expertise to help families cope with the emotional effects of living with illness. Social workers also provide education in the community and in the hospital about the impact of illness on patients and families, acting as advocates for the patients. There are 30 licensed and degree-prepared social workers at St. Jude who had nearly 20,000 patient visits in the past year.

Sirrine was named the 2013 Social Worker of the Year by the Heartland, Florida Unit of the National Association of Social Workers, and was selected as 2011 Professor of the Year at Warner University. Sirrine’s professional accomplishments include launching a new Master of Social Work Program at Southeastern University. She provides continuing education seminars on grief and loss counseling to mental health practitioners, and conducts research on grief and bereavement, including a recent study on grief and loss amid the pandemic.

"Dr. Sirrine has a wealth of experience in developing and growing social work programs and is an expert in death, dying, and grief in children,” said Valerie Crabtree, Ph.D., chief of Psychosocial Services at St. Jude. “Her expertise in these areas will help us advance our strategic goals for the Social Work department in a way that I feel confident will have a highly positive impact on our patients and their families." 

Sirrine holds a bachelor's degree from Florida State University, a master's degree from the University of Central Florida, and a doctoral degree in social work from the University of South Florida. She has been recognized as a Fellow in Thanatology by the Association for Death Education and Counseling.

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.