Following a promising first year of its 2022–27 strategic plan, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is increasing its investment in programs to advance the study and treatment of pediatric cancer and other catastrophic diseases.
The growth includes an additional $1.4 billion to the institution’s six-year operating and capital budget, bringing the total to $12.9 billion. The expansion also encompasses raising the number of new jobs from 1,400 to 2,300; and increasing funds for construction, renovation and capital needs from $1.9 billion to $2.3 billion.
The plan, which started July 1, 2021, marked the institution’s largest strategic expansion in its 60-year history. The new funding will affect scientific operations, clinical care, global medicine and infrastructure.
“Even before last year’s strategic plan launch, we began to explore the possibility of further expanding the budget and staffing numbers,” said James R. Downing, M.D., St. Jude president and CEO. “Working with internal and external subject-matter experts, we developed a proposal for opportunities where a larger investment would help accelerate research and treatment for childhood catastrophic diseases. With these increases, we are better positioned to build on the outlined plan, as well as capitalize on emerging technologies and discoveries.”
The addendum to the budget and employee figures will be used to strengthen the following areas.
Investment in fundamental science
The 2022–27 plan charted initiatives across the fields of structural biology, advanced microscopy and data sciences. These efforts are directed at better defining normal biology and disease states. With this data, researchers will gain valuable insights into why diseases arise, spread or resist treatment. More than $250 million in capital, personal and operating expenses will be allocated to the areas, doubling the current funding.
Another $15 million has been dedicated to a large-scale program to explore the structure of protein kinases, bringing total six-year funding for the initiative to $50 million. From this effort, researchers hope to better understand the role of protein kinases, key regulators of cell function, in pediatric cancers and drug resistance. From this work, scientists will glean insights that could be useful in developing new precision therapies.
Investment in global childhood cancer care
In low- and middle-income countries, pediatric cancer survival rates languish below 20%. In the U.S., however, 80% of U.S. children with the same diseases are cured. A new investment will help researchers improve these statistics. Funding for the global initiatives will grow to $100 million annually by 2024, further supporting St. Jude–established networks around the world. By training doctors, nurses, researchers and other professionals; developing and strengthening health care systems; and advancing knowledge to sustain improvements in how medicine is practiced internationally, the institution seeks to cure 60% of children with six of the most common childhood cancers worldwide during the next decade. This growth is in addition to the $200 million St. Jude committed last year to create a global platform to ensure that children in low- and middle-income countries have access to quality cancer medications.
Investment in collaboration
The strategic plan outlines funds for collaborative projects among St. Jude and scientists across the U.S. and around the world. To date, St. Jude has supported five teams of researchers who are addressing questions in fundamental biology, pediatric cancer, sickle cell disease and survivorship. Funding will increase to $160 million during the next five years—an increase of nearly $60 million from the original budget. By 2027, St. Jude leadership plans to support a total of 11 collaborations focused on tackling unanswered needs in science and medicine.
Investment in the St. Jude campus
As St. Jude increases staff and accepts more children for treatment, creating a top workplace and a welcoming home-away-from-home for patients and their families is a major priority. The increased funds will be used to enhance construction projects, including the Domino’s Village, a 140-unit housing facility for patients and their families, and the Family Commons, a treatment-free zone for patients and their families within the hospital. The expansion will also be used for construction of two, 15-story towers dedicated to patient care and clinical research—a project that will cost more than $1 billion. The institution has filed permits with the Memphis and Shelby County Division of Planning and Development to begin the construction process of the two towers.
Unlike other hospitals, the majority of funding for St. Jude comes from generous donors. In the years ahead, it’s estimated that 89% of the funds necessary to sustain and grow St. Jude must be raised each year from donations.
“The largest financial investment in the 60-year history of St. Jude is thanks to the 12 million donors who support its lifesaving mission,” said Richard C. Shadyac Jr., president and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude. “Their incredible generosity is fueling research and care that will impact more children worldwide for generations to come.”
The expansion follows a year of milestones across five focus areas—fundamental science, pediatric cancer care, childhood catastrophic diseases, global outreach, and workplace and culture.
“The heart of the plan—accelerating progress globally—remains the same,” Downing said. “This expansion ensures employees have ample resources and bandwidth to achieve that important goal.”
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 60 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. To learn more, visit stjude.org or follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.