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FY22-27 St. Jude Strategic Plan Milestones

Two years ago, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital announced the creation of its 2022–27 strategic plan. This bold commitment outlines a plan to accelerate progress in the laboratory, in the clinic and around the globe. Since then, we’ve made gains across the plan’s five focus areas—fundamental science; childhood cancer; pediatric catastrophic diseases; global impact; and infrastructure, talent and culture. Based on what we’ve accomplished in the past year alone, the future is bright with possibilities.


Focus on Fundamental Science

Exploring an endless frontier of possibility

  • Victor Torres, PhD, has been named the inaugural chair of the newly-created Department of Host-Microbe Interactions.
  •  The St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences will begin offering a master’s degree in data science. 
  • Steven Varga, PhD, was appointed as the second dean of the St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. He will also oversee a research program and laboratory focused on advancing vaccine development for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Steven Varga, PhD

Steven Varga, PhD, has been appointed Dean of the St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

  • Frank Fazio joined St. Jude as president of the Children’s GMP, LLC, and vice president of therapeutics production and quality.
  • Jasmine Plummer, PhD, is leading the new Center for Spatial Omics, a strategic shared resource that will develop cutting-edge spatial omics platforms that reveal how cells interact and organize across multiple dimensions.
  • Madan Babu, PhD, a world leader in the application of data sciences to molecular structures, has accepted the appointment to chief data strategist, where he will build out an administrative organization over the ensuing months. This is in conjunction with his leadership in the new Center of Excellence for Data-Driven Discovery.
Madan Babu, PhD

Madan Babu, PhD, has been appointed Chief Data Strategist.

  • Recruitment efforts are ongoing for the Center of Excellence in Advanced Microscopy.
  • The Cryo-Electron Tomography Center space plan is complete and recruitment efforts for a director are ongoing.
  • Twelve scientists from St. Jude are among investigators named to the 2023 list of Highly Cited Researchers. The list draws from papers that rank in the top 1% of citations.
  • The Inspiration4 Advanced Research Center opened to provide laboratory, office and collaborative spaces for more than 1,000 scientists and administrative staff. As of summer 2023, overflow floors have been completed in anticipation of hiring more faculty.
  • Top investigator J. Paul Taylor, MD, PhD, was appointed scientific director to guide the institution’s basic science programs and related research efforts.
J. Paul Taylor, MD, PhD

J. Paul Taylor, MD, PhD, has been appointed Scientific Director.


Focus on Childhood Cancer

Creating a brighter future for children today and generations to come

  • St. Jude Cloud Survivorship Portal launches to handle the amount of data generated from St. Jude LIFE.
  • 2023 marked the fourth year of Bringing Chemistry to Medicine, an annual conference hosted on the St. Jude campus and virtually.
  • The creation of the Translational Immunology and Immunotherapy Initiative (TI3) will strengthen the St. Jude cancer immunotherapy program. The group held their fourth annual conference, the St Jude Annual Translational Cancer Immunotherapy Retreat, in 2023. In January 2023, Julie Park, MD, joined St. Jude as chair of the Department of Oncology and the first associate director for translational research on the Comprehensive Cancer Center’s senior leadership team.
Julie Park and Erica Kaye

Julie Park, MD, (left, with Erica Kaye, MD) joined St. Jude as chair of the Department of Oncology.

  • Greg Armstrong, MD, was appointed chair for the Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Control. A physician-scientist, he also serves as the principal investigator of the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study, the world’s largest established resource for survivorship research.
  • The Comprehensive Cancer Center is leading one of the largest cancer-focused faculty recruitment efforts in St. Jude history, looking to expand its faculty by 33%.
  • The goal of the Center of Excellence in Leukemia Science is to enhance basic and translational research in leukemia and other cancers of the blood and improve outcomes for children with these diseases. Three laboratory-based faculty will lead these efforts in conjunction with an expanded computational and technical staff.
  • The translational CAR T-cell therapy program continues to progress, with active CAR T-cell therapy studies for patients with ALL, AML, solid tumors and brain tumors. 
  • The new Center of Excellence for Pediatric Immuno-Oncology, led by Stephen Gottschalk, MD, and Hongbo Chi, PhD, brings together investigators across Cancer Center programs and academic departments with a mission of harnessing the power of the immune system to help cure incurable pediatric cancers.
Stephen Gottschalk, MD, and Hongbo Chi, PhD

Stephen Gottschalk, MD, (left) and Hongbo Chi, PhD, lead the new Center of Excellence for Pediatric Immuno-Oncology.

  • The Pediatric Cancer Dependencies Accelerator has been created. Its purpose is to transform the scientific understanding of childhood cancers, identify new targets for therapy, and pave the way for new clinical trials and effective treatments.
  • A new clinical trial for relapsed leukemia, led by Seth Karol, MD, will explore the toxicity and potential for therapeutic response in the most aggressive forms of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
  • The growth in scientific discovery at St. Jude has led to an increase in the identification of novel therapeutic approaches. St. Jude seeks to partner with industry to make these advances widely accessible.
  • The HPV Cancer Prevention Program at St. Jude continues to focus on improving rural HPV vaccination coverage through its Wide Open Spaces campaign. The team also launched the Path to a Bright Future campaign that encourages on-time HPV vaccination.
  • The Comprehensive Cancer Center received a two-year Cancer Center Support Grant merit extension from the National Cancer Institute. This is the first time the NCI has offered this two-year extension, which St. Jude was awarded after receiving two consecutive “Exceptional” ratings.
  • The institution’s first dedicated clinical trials management system launched, uniting the St. Jude research community under one data platform to manage clinicals trials.

Focus on Childhood Catastrophic Diseases

Giving new hope to children with catastrophic diseases

  • Three blue-sky projects have launched, The Partnership to advance development of individualized genomic medicines (PARADIGM), the PTNI Genomic Medicine Initiative (GEMINI) and Tracking the Immune Repertoire of Tumor Lymphocytes (TIRTL). 
  • In conjunction with scientists from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Mitch Weiss, MD, PhD, chair of the Department of Hematology, and Jonathan Yen, PhD, director of Therapeutic Genome Engineering, have announced a potentially curative approach for sickle cell disease that uses gene editing that could convert the sickle cell mutation into a normal DNA sequence.
  • Opening a telehealth hematology clinic in Tupelo, Mississippi, has allowed St. Jude to better access patients in the region, bridging care for those who have limited access to hematology services.
  • A new hematology clinic performs timely assessments of adolescent girls with menorrhagia and severe iron deficiency anemia, allowing St. Jude to rule out the presence of any significant hematological abnormality as a cause of either illness.
  • Core areas of the Pediatric Translational Neuroscience Initiative continue to grow and thrive, with expanded recruitment, service offerings and program launches. Two major workshops were held this year: One was focused on ultrarare diseases and the other centered on community building and advocacy. 
  • Octavio Ramilo, MD, has been appointed chair of the Department of Infectious Diseases. A clinician-scientist, Ramilo is focusing his research on the pathogenesis, effects and treatment of RSV.
Octavio Ramilo, MD

Octavio Ramilo, MD, has been appointed chair of the Department of Infectious Diseases.

  • The recently established Center for Experimental Neurotherapeutics enrolled its first patient in the DEVOTE clinical trial, the first interventional study for spinal muscular atrophy at St. Jude.

Focus on Global Impact

Moving science and medicine beyond borders and boundaries

  • Global Platform for Access to Childhood Cancer medicines signed between St. Jude and UNICEF will provide safe and effective cancer medicines to approximately 120,000 children.
  • Global clinical trial GLOBOTRK protocol approved and under review. 
  • St. Jude Global celebrated its five-year anniversary. The St. Jude Global Alliance has grown to include 234 medical institutions in 69 countries and more than 40 foundations from 34 countries.
  • The institution’s global efforts will be initially supported by three regional operational hubs, one each in Dubai, UAE; Mexico City, Mexico; and Johannesburg, South Africa, plus an additional location in Geneva, Switzerland. The legal structure of the operational units was also completed.
  • DIVIA, a transformative initiative seeking to address major gaps in the diagnosis of childhood cancer using next-generation sequencing technology platforms, was reviewed and approved to move forward.
  • The Master of Science program in Global Child Health will see its fifth cohort begin in summer 2023. Following a partnership with ACGME-I, Global has overseen the addition of new programs and the training of 51 fellows.
  • SJCARES provides a system to identify, target and monitor health metrics that impact patient outcomes. Over 150 institutions have contributed data to SJCARES, allowing St. Jude Global to understand the depth of disease burden in low- and middle-income countries.
  • As the war in Ukraine continues, SAFER Ukraine has focused on sustainability planning, ensuring coordinated support for pediatric cancer patients in Ukraine.
Ukraine family departs plane

SAFER Ukraine has focused on sustainability planning and ensuring coordinated support for pediatric cancer patients in Ukraine.


Focus on People and Place

Building a culture, workforce and environment that speeds cures for children

  • Sarah Currie, RNC, MSN, NEA-BC, joins St. Jude as the Chief nursing executive and SVP.
  • Brooke Bernhardt, PharmD, joins St. Jude as the Chief pharmaceutical officer.
  • Lisa Jordan joins St. Jude as the first SVP of technology commercialization.
  • Kate Heffernan, JD, joins St. Jude as the interim research integrity officer.
  • Helene Tournu joined St. Jude in 2023 as the senior program manager of the newly formed Prizes and Awards Office within Academic and Biomedical Operations. The team will serve as the key liaison between St. Jude and external awarding organizations.
  • Home Care, LLC achieves accreditation from Community Health Accreditation Partners (CHAP) and is the nation’s first to receive the distinction.
  • Blue-sky idea to expand expertise of postdoctoral research associates, the SMaRT Plan, launches.
  • Blue-sky idea St. Jude Historical Archive is underway with the hire of a lead archivist.
  • Planning is underway for a new research building, new parking deck, and renovations to the Kay Kafe.
  • Strategic Communications, Education and Outreach (SCEO) continues its successes with the Have More in Memphis campaign, bringing operations in-house and planning for a third issue of Neighborly.
  • SCEO has also launched a new Teams app to replace the former St. Jude GO app and reconfigured the use of digital signage on campus. 
  • The Department of Psychology rebranded as the Department of Psychology and Biobehavioral Sciences to better reflect its focus. Kevin Krull, PhD, was appointed chair. 
  • After two years and the hard work of hundreds of employees, Workday officially launched on July 1. Workday is the main home of employee information and a central hub for many employee and manager activities. It will also help align operational services with world-class research and treatment.
The Dominos Village playground

The Dominos Village playground

  • The Domino's Village, the second on-site patient housing facility, opened to families October 10, after six years of planning, working alongside patients and families and institution-wide collaboration. The Domino’s Village Clinic also opened, featuring a medication-dispensing kiosk
  • In 2023, St. Jude broke ground on two new 15-story towers that will ultimately become the site of the outpatient clinic and clinical office buildings. The construction will take several years and has required the cooperation of several different departments to mitigate logistics, parking, and security.
  • St. Jude @ Work is the process of defining a sustainable strategy and corresponding policy for different working models at St. Jude. This is part of the ongoing effort to attract and retain employees and advance Project 2300.
  • The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has reached multiple milestones over the past year, including a team expansion, the launch of the Inclusion Advocacy and DEI Roadshow programs, the creation of several new Employee Resource Groups, and the launch of monthly Inclusion Labs.
Heritage Fest

St. Jude Employees represent Mexico at the second annual Heritage Fest.

  • In October 2023, the second annual St. Jude Heritage Fest was held, celebrating 25 employee-led culture and heritage groups. This event showcased the diversity of the St. Jude workforce and resulted from the collaboration of over 300 heritage committee members, 50 volunteers and 1,000 employee attendees.
  • The Department of Family, Guest & Volunteer Services launched their new FY24-28 departmental strategic plans in 2023 in support of the institutional strategic plan. The departmental strategic plan outlines the direction the Patient Family-Centered Care and Volunteer Services and Special Events teams will go.
  • Due to ongoing construction efforts on campus, the Patient Care Center clinical entrance has been temporarily relocated to the rear of the building to better accommodate patients and their families.
  • Lori Spicer Robertson was named the institution’s new vice president and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer. 
Lori Spicer Robertson

Lori Spicer Robertson was named the Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer.

  • Catherine Corbin was appointed senior vice president and the institution’s first chief business innovation officer. Her focus will be on strategic initiatives and transforming spaces to enhance the organization’s ability to serve patients and families. 
  • The St. Jude Strategic Plan outlines the recruitment of 2,300 new employees, a 40% workforce increase. Project 2300 includes development of a best-in-class employee recruitment and onboarding program and a focus on improvement in processes to bring top talent to St. Jude and Memphis.

Project 2300 includes development of a best-in-class employee recruitment and onboarding program and a focus on improvement in processes to bring top talent to St. Jude and Memphis.

  • Both the Office of Large Grant Development and the Conference and Event Management Office were launched this year. Sobha Jaishankar, PhD, will lead the former to facilitate proposals of strategic relevance to the institution. Brandi Kirby will oversee a team dedicated to events and event processes geared toward national and global audiences.
  • Eleven collaboratives will be explored during the 2022-27 Strategic Plan. The latest, an undertaking between St. Jude, Columbia, Stanford and Duke, is focused on studying G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), one of the largest protein families involved in human health and disease.
  • Project IGNITE, the transition process for a new electronic health record system, ensured that the Epic platform launched in 2022. This new platform will allow St. Jude to improve care, support clinical research, and ensure better clinician experiences.
  • Launched this year, the Safe and Sound Academy aims to improve the quality of care for all children with catastrophic diseases. Staff will have the ability to pursue evidence-based methods to provide the safest care and best outcomes for patients.
  • St. Jude launched a comprehensive review and redesign of career paths for employees to provide increased upward mobility and develop long-term career goals. In association with the redesign, salaries were adjusted to enhance competitive position for recruitment and retention.
  • The Association for the Health Care Environment recognized St. Jude Environmental Services with a 2022 Certificate of Merit. The Department of EVS, comprised of 225 employees, ensures patients are treated in the cleanest and safest environment possible.
  • The Transition Oncology Program, comprised of school advocacy coordinators, nursing professionals, psychologists and social workers, empowers patients and families to navigate the challenges associated with life after cancer. This year, the innovative program assisted its 1,000th patient.
  • The development and implementation of the Vascular Access Team will improve care, decrease preventable harm and improve the experience that patients and families have during their treatment journey.
  • The recently launched Family Rounding Program is a team of dedicated staff that help families and patients feel more engaged and comfortable throughout their health care journeys. A key early success has been maintaining consistent times for rounding and ensuring every person on the care team is present.
  • Women in Leadership + Learning, a four-month-long, cohort-based, immersive development experience that aims to empower women, has graduated its first two groups, comprised of 65 faculty members. A third group of faculty members is now underway.
  • Through the STEMM immersion program, St. Jude hosts Memphis and Shelby County high school students for paid summer internships. The program, about to launch its third suymmer, is designed to expand access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics education for students in the Memphis area.
High School Immersion Program

The STEMM immersion program is designed to expand access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics education for students in the Memphis area.

  • Golden retriever Rose is the newest member of the St. Jude Paws at Play program, joining three other facility dogs at St. Jude. Rose enhances psychosocial support for patients and families in several areas, including Social Work, the St. Jude School Program and Family Commons.

Rose is the newest member of the St. Jude Paws at Play program, joining three other facility dogs at St. Jude.

  • St. Jude recognizes that postdoctoral researchers are an essential component of the research mission. First-year salaries for basic lab postdocs increased nearly $15,000 while data science postdocs saw an increase of nearly $30,000 annually.
  • Once again, St. Jude has placed atop U.S. News & World Report’s list of top pediatric cancer hospitals, earning a ranking of No. 5 in 2023. 
  • The Family Commons, a 45,000 square-foot space for patients and families to relax, opened in February 2023. The space houses the St. Jude School Program, an art room and science lab, indoor and outdoor play areas, a café, private rooms for families and a sacred space, among other amenities.
Family Commons

Family Commons opened in February 2023. The space houses the St. Jude School Program, an art room and science lab, indoor and outdoor play areas, a café, private rooms for families and a sacred space, among other amenities.

  • Nearly 1,000 employees relocated to the Peabody Place campus in downtown Memphis as renovations take place on the main campus. 
  • Collective teams of scientists gathered on campus for the inaugural Joint Meeting of the St. Jude Research Collaboratives to share innovative ideas and connect with a cross-section of the institution’s researchers.
STEMM students

Programs such as the High School and College Research Immersion Program launched to create a more inclusive career pipeline in the health and science fields.


Selected scientific and medical publications

Emerging from FY22-27 St. Jude Strategic Plan