Jasmine T. Plummer, Ph.D., has joined St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as director of the new Center for Spatial Omics. In this position, she will help guide the institution’s strategy to develop cutting-edge spatial omics platforms that reveal how cells interact and organize across multiple dimensions to accelerate discovery and advance cures.
Spatial omics complements other technologies by preserving the architecture of tissues and single-cell resolution so scientists can watch how different cells coexist and engage. This will help researchers develop single-cell resolution maps of disease to better understand the important interactions among different cellular subtypes and find novel targets for therapy, eventually translating those into new drugs.
“It is an exciting time in science where spatial technology is poised to allow us, not simply to see within a tissue, but within a single cell,” Plummer said. “Spatial omics offers a huge potential for discovery in disease development and treatment, and I am thrilled to build a center primed to propel discovery using the vast tissue resources at St. Jude.”
The development of the Center for Spatial Omics is part of the 2022-2027 St. Jude Strategic Plan, a $12.9 billion commitment that will support 2,300 additional jobs; provide $2.3 billion in new construction, renovation and capital needs; and open new areas of research. The institution’s experience as part of the Human Tumor Atlas Pilot Project and Human Tumor Atlas Network provides the expertise to rapidly accelerate development of this unique resource to serve all St. Jude investigators.
“The opportunities available with the creation of the Center for Spatial Omics were an important point of discussion during the institution’s strategic planning process,” said James R. Downing, M.D., St. Jude president and CEO. “By offering this specialized shared resource for researchers, we can define the best approaches and technology for collaborative discovery.”
Plummer joins St. Jude from Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, where she was the co-director of an applied genomics, computational and translational core. In that role, she oversaw the implementation of all new genomic technologies including sample preparation, bulk and single-cell genomics and sequencing.
“Spatial omics is a nascent and exciting discipline, and Dr. Plummer has emerged as an innovative leader in this field,” said J. Paul Taylor, M.D., Ph.D., scientific director. “It is proving to be a very fast-moving field, with new technologies and instruments being developed at a rapid pace. Dr. Plummer has been at the forefront of these advances, positioning herself as a key connection to technology innovators. With Dr. Plummer’s leadership, we will build world-class capabilities that will stay abreast of these innovations, ensuring that our investigators have access to leading-edge technologies.”
Throughout her career, Plummer has used a multi-omics approach to examine genetic risk in oncogenesis across cancers, including ovarian, breast and prostate, as well as neurodevelopmental disorders.
“Dr. Plummer will help St. Jude push the envelope so we can better understand normal and disease biology with cellular resolution down to the different cellular states, 3-D organization and intercellular communication so we can develop more effective, less toxic treatments for catastrophic diseases of childhood,” said Michael A. Dyer, Ph.D., chair of the St. Jude Developmental Neurobiology department and co-leader of the Developmental Biology and Solid Tumor Program.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and cures childhood cancer, sickle cell disease, and other life-threatening disorders. 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 60 years ago. St. Jude shares the breakthroughs it makes to help doctors and researchers at local hospitals and cancer centers around the world improve the quality of treatment and care for even more children. To learn more, visit stjude.org, read St. Jude Progress blog, and follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.