New leadership at St. Jude

    Memphis, Tennessee, December 10, 2004

    William E. Evans Named New St. Jude Director
    Former St. Jude Director Arthur W. Nienhuis, M.D., and George Simon, chair of the St. Jude Board of Governors, recently announced that William E. Evans, Pharm.D., assumed the position of St. Jude Director and CEO Nov. 1, 2004. Evans was previously the hospital’s scientific director.

    Nienhuis will continue his research at St. Jude in the area of gene therapy.

    Evans is the fifth St. Jude director since the hospital opened in 1962. He joined the St. Jude staff in 1976, and for the past 25 years his research has focused on the pharmacodynamics and pharmacogenomics of anticancer agents. He has published more than 250 research articles and has received two MERIT Awards from the National Institutes of Health (NCI) and various awards from national professional societies for his research. In 2002, he was elected to the Institute of Medicine, a component of the National Academy of Sciences.

    “We will remain focused on childhood catastrophic diseases, with cancer the predominant focus,” Evans said. “Attracting the best people, maintaining an interactive environment and providing people the resources to do their best work will continue to be our strategy for finding cures through research and treatment.”

    James Downing Named St. Jude Scientific Director
    James Downing, M.D., has been named St. Jude Scientific Director. The position was created in 2002 and was held by Evans until he assumed the hospital directorship. Downing will continue serving as Pathology chair.
    In the redefined scientific director position, Downing will have major responsibilities for optimizing research infrastructure, working with department chairs to enhance inter-departmental interactions and planning and implementing new program initiatives. Academic department chairs will again report to the St. Jude director.
    Downing’s goals are to ensure that the institution’s research infrastructure continues to effectively and efficiently meet the needs of St. Jude investigators and to work closely on strategic planning issues, including the development of cross-departmental initiatives. As scientific director, Downing will work with Chief Medical Officer Joseph Mirro, M.D., and Chief Operating Officer John Nash to further integrate research, patient care and daily operations of St. Jude.
    “St. Jude has outstanding resources and a long tradition of productive interactions among clinical investigators and basic scientists,” Downing said. “My goal is to build on these strengths and keep St. Jude at the forefront of science and medicine.”

    Michael Kastan to Direct St. Jude Cancer Center
    Michael Kastan, M.D., Ph.D., has been appointed director of the St. Jude Cancer Center. Chief among his goals is to continue building collaborations among St. Jude departments to further the research and treatment of childhood cancer.

    “It is a privilege to have the opportunity to work with the outstanding investigators at St. Jude, both clinical investigators and laboratory researchers, in developing new insights into the cancer problem,” Kastan said. “I know of no better place to try to coordinate efforts across the spectrum of cancer research than St. Jude.”

    The Cancer Center comprises seven programs and has been supported by consecutive grants from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) since 1977.

    Kastan, who will continue serving as Hematology-Oncology chair, will coordinate the activities of the Cancer Center programs and chair the Cancer Center Advisory Committee.
    “A truly comprehensive approach to cancer requires efforts ranging from development of new treatments to reduction of treatment side effects to prevention of the disease in the first place,” Kastan said. “Major advances in these areas depend on continuing to gain new insights into the biology and physiology of cancer, which in turn depends on laboratory-based discoveries. Our ability to do translational research, i.e. research that directly impacts patient care and studies of primary tumors, is outstanding at St. Jude and needs to continue to be fostered and encouraged.”

    St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
    St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is internationally recognized for its pioneering work in finding cures and saving children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. Founded by late entertainer Danny Thomas and based in Memphis, Tenn., St. Jude freely shares its discoveries with scientific and medical communities around the world. No family ever pays for treatments not covered by insurance, and families without insurance are never asked to pay. St. Jude is financially supported by ALSAC, its fundraising organization.