St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital announced today that Julie R. Park, M.D., has been named the new chair of the Department of Oncology where she will oversee innovative efforts focused on research and care for children with cancer.
An expert in refractory and recurrent pediatric cancer with a specific focus on neuroblastoma and immuno-oncology, Park previously served as chief medical officer of Seattle Children’s Therapeutics, where she played a vital role in the development of cellular immunotherapy trials for pediatric cancer. She was also an attending physician at Seattle Children’s Hospital and an associate in the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center.
“Dr. Park brings a wealth of knowledge, deep experience and considerable talent to St. Jude,” said James R. Downing, M.D., St. Jude president and CEO. “She will play an integral role in fulfilling cancer-related strategic initiatives, shaping the future of pediatric cancer care at St. Jude and mentoring a new generation of investigators.”
Park has developed novel combinatorial therapies for pediatric cancer, particularly difficult-to-treat neuroblastomas. She has a strong track record translating laboratory research findings into early phase clinical trials for recurrent childhood malignancies. In particular, she collaborated with laboratory investigators at Seattle Children’s in designing first in-human autologous chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell trials for pediatric leukemia, solid tumors and brain tumors.
“St. Jude is a longstanding world-class leader in research and treatment for pediatric cancer, and an exceptional academic environment with resources that are truly unparalleled,” Park said. “I look forward to continuing to advance the science to find cures for pediatric cancer in partnership with our superb faculty.”
In addition to her role as department chair, Park will become the inaugural Associate Director for Translational Research on the senior leadership team of the St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center, the first and only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. The center leads the institution’s cross-cutting efforts to improve cure rates for children with cancer, while reducing the side effects of therapy, through a coordinated program of clinical-, population- and laboratory-based research, community outreach and training of the next generation of cancer researchers.
“Dr. Park’s creativity and drive will usher in a new era of innovation at St. Jude as we seek to advance cures for pediatric cancers with the lowest survival rates and reduce the toxicity of cancer therapy,” said Charles W. M. Roberts, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president and director of the St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Park is the past chair of the Children’s Oncology Group Neuroblastoma Scientific Committee and led research that incorporated understanding of neuroblastoma biology into improved prognostic stratification and novel targeted therapeutics. In addition to her clinical and academic work, Park serves as the scientific lead for the New Approaches to Neuroblastoma Therapy (NANT) consortium, which is funded through an NCI Program Project Grant.
Park attended medical school at the University of Vermont and completed her residency and fellowship in pediatric hematology oncology at the University of Washington, where she was also a professor in the Department of Pediatrics.
She succeeds longstanding department chair Ching-Hon Pui, M.D., who has been instrumental in elevating the survival rates for children diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) around the world. Pui will now focus on clinical research in the Asia-Pacific region for St. Jude Global.
“Since taking the helm of the Department of Oncology in 2006, Dr. Pui has played a leading role in transforming the way children with ALL are treated, raising the survival rate to an unprecedent 94% at St. Jude,” Downing said. “His continued work through St. Jude Global will help extend the hope of a cure to children far beyond our hospital.”
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.