St. Jude was founded on big dreams and a trailblazing spirit. From the beginning, the premise was daring. In 1962, when the hospital opened, a mere 20% of those with pediatric cancer survived. Children with sickle cell disease lived from pain crisis to pain crisis.
The hospital has grown exponentially since its opening, but the urgency of the work remains the same. Scroll through the timeline below to see a few of the milestones in our journey to advance cures and means of prevention for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment.
The hospital opens in Memphis, Tennessee, before a crowd of 9,000 people.
St. Jude initiates the Total Therapy approach to acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) treatment. The four-component approach still forms the backbone of ALL treatments today.
A group of St. Jude patients with ALL are the first to be successfully taken off therapy, based on evidence that remission can be sustained.
St. Jude enrolls thousands of local infants in a successful nutritional program, which serves as the prototype for WIC, the federal health and nutrition program for women, infants and children.
St. Jude becomes the first to identify important subtypes of ALL, including T-cell leukemia. The finding leads to better risk classifications, new research directions and improved treatment.
World Health Organization (WHO) designates St. Jude as a Collaborating Center for the study of influenza transmission from animals to humans.
St. Jude opens the After Completion of Therapy Clinic, the world’s largest long-term follow-up clinic for pediatric cancer patients.
The hospital’s brain tumor program, which opened the previous year, begins accepting patients. Unlike other hospitals, St. Jude provides an integrated and personalized treatment plan for each child.
The hospital institutes a clinical program to seek a cure for pediatric AIDS.
St. Jude is the first to use gene marking to follow the course of bone marrow transplantation in children.
St. Jude scientists discover that an antimalarial drug can prevent or effectively treat a life-threatening form of pneumonia in patients with AIDS.
St. Jude forms a Pediatric AIDS Clinical Trial Unit with two other Memphis area hospitals.
Arthur Nienhuis, MD, establishes an experimental hematology program with a focus on developing gene therapy for blood disorders.
St. Jude is among the first to incorporate a computer-based, 3-D radiation therapy technique into pediatric brain tumor treatment.
By opening vector production labs, St. Jude becomes one of the few centers in the world with a comprehensive cell and gene therapy program.
Peter Doherty, PhD, St. Jude Immunology chair, is awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. He and Rolf M. Zinkernagel, MD, PhD, of the University of Zurich share the prize for their pioneering research explaining how the immune system recognizes and kills virus-infected cells.
St. Jude becomes the nation’s first pediatric cancer research center to open a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) facility to produce vaccines, proteins, gene-based molecules and other biopharmaceuticals.
St. Jude reports a 94% survival rate for patients with ALL, using therapy that does not include radiation.
The Pediatric Cancer Genome Project announces the largest-ever release of comprehensive human cancer genome data for free access.
The Pediatric Cancer Genome Project identifies drugs that enhance oxidative stress as a possible treatment against rhabdomyosarcoma, the most common pediatric soft-tissue tumor.
The Pediatric Cancer Genome Project offers new leads for improved outcomes in children with high-grade glioma brain tumors.
St. Jude opens the world’s first proton therapy center for children with cancer.
St. Jude is named a trial site for an HIV Prevention Trials Network study that compares for pre-exposure prevention of HIV in young men.
St. Jude-led research offers the most comprehensive analysis yet of the genomic alterations that lead to cancer in children and affirms the need for pediatric-specific precision therapies.
St. Jude acquires the nation’s largest and most powerful nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer to visualize protein structures that cannot be detected with other technology.
An international collaboration led by St. Jude shows therapy-induced mutations can drive about 25% of relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemias.
By October 2021, the Global COVID-19 Observatory and Resource Center for Childhood Cancer had tracked 1,775 COVID-19 positive cases from 51 countries. This project provides an unparalleled resource for understanding how the SARS-CoV-2 virus affects children undergoing cancer treatment around the world.
Scientists at St. Jude develop a method that may be able to improve chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies by identifying the early cells that become the most effective cancer killers.
Learn more about the history of the hospital, our in-depth scientific accomplishments and the profound impact of our research enterprise at the links below.