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James R. Downing, MD

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
President and Chief Executive Officer

James R. Downing, M.D., is president and chief executive officer of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He is leading a $11.5 billion commitment to accelerate progress in the research and treatment of pediatric cancer and other catastrophic diseases by expanding St. Jude clinical care and scientific programs in Memphis and around the globe.

A renowned leader in pediatric cancer research, Dr. Downing focuses his work on understanding the genetic basis of cancer and using that information to improve treatments. He was instrumental in launching the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project, an ambitious sequencing effort to discover why childhood cancer arises, spreads and resists treatment.

Beyond research, Dr. Downing has been a driving force to take St. Jude to the world. He has championed an extraordinary new program to raise pediatric cancer survival rates internationally. This will be accomplished in part through a global alliance of health care providers who work to ensure that children everywhere have access to quality care.

Dr. Downing earned his undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of Michigan. He joined St. Jude in 1986 after training in anatomic pathology at Washington University in St. Louis and completing a fellowship in hematopathology at the University of Florida in Gainesville. For his work, Dr. Downing has received numerous honors, including election to the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Most recently, he received the Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering Prize, the E. Donnall Thomas Lecture and Prize from the American Society of Hematology and the Pediatric Oncology Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

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 stjude.org or follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.