Bold projects. Endless possibilities.

At St. Jude, we are guided by a unified plan that outlines bold strategies for the future. But as soon as one plan in finalized, technologies evolve, opportunities arise, or priorities expand. Our robust blue-sky process allows St. Jude to seize these emerging opportunities and nimbly pursue them. The blue-sky process challenges faculty and staff to explore bold new ideas that have the potential to transform science, medicine, and our institution. The process also fosters collaboration and the creation of teams that cut across traditional department and discipline lines to bring together individuals who can address a problem from multiple points of view.

All faculty and staff members can submit proposals that extend beyond the current strategic plan, have the potential for game-changing impact, and establish a unique leadership position for St. Jude. Our blue-sky projects amplify the strengths of the hospital’s strategic plan – allowing St. Jude to accelerate mission-critical objectives and test novel scientific and clinical approaches.

The sky’s the limit. 

Blue Sky Research Programs

iTARGETS: Immuno-oncology target Identification via systems immunology

Goal: Identify and translate innovative targets in immuno-oncology, ultimately enabling and advancing curative therapies for pediatric cancers and other catastrophic diseases.

Impact: This project will build a transformative model for translating data-driven discoveries in silico to preclinical validations at the bench and then to early clinical trials at the bedside by bridging immunology, systems biology, cancer biology, preclinical modeling, and clinical investigation.

Hongbo Chi, PhD
Jiyang Yu, PhD
Terrence Geiger, MD, PhD
Stephen Gottschalk, MD

image of cells

COMET: Solid tumor 

Goal: Develop the definitive global database of pediatric solid tumor DNA methylation and copy number profiles using the Illumina Infinium 850K array. 

Impact: In addition to being the largest and most comprehensive pediatric solid tumor epigenetic reference dataset in the world, the COMET database will provide another tool to stratify patients on clinical trials, to more effectively classify difficult cases and to accelerate basic science on the origins of pediatric solid tumors. 

Michael Dyer, PhD

Seeing the invisible in protein kinases

Goal: Use ultra-high field NMR to detect and structurally characterize distinct conformational states in the protein kinome and dissect mechanisms underpinning regulation, drug-resistance, and disease-causing mutations. 

Impact: Understanding the diverse set of inactive conformational states among kinases is critical for understanding their regulatory mechanisms and predicting the effect of mutations on structure and function. This project will transform efforts to decipher the molecular and genetic landscape of the human kinome and facilitate improved drug discovery opportunities.

Charalampos Kalodimos, PhD

image of protein kinase

Additional Blue-Sky Initiatives: