The St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center brings together physicians and scientists from across our campus to work on problems that have the potential to have the greatest impact for children fighting cancer.

These doctors and researchers may work in different departments, but our Cancer Center programs are structured so that they can collaborate to focus on shared problems.

Once these teams are together, we ask questions:

  • What are the most important problems we want to attack?
  • What are children dying from?
  • Where is the opportunity for greatest impact?
  • What do we need to do?
  • We then develop a strategy and tactics to address these questions.

Our designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center reflects leading excellence in laboratory, clinical and survivorship research, as well as leadership in education and community outreach. St. Jude has the first and only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Recently, the center was honored again to receive the highest possible score of “exceptional” in our most recent NCI review by achieving the highest numerical score in our history.

One year before the submission deadline, we held a “kickoff” to begin engaging the program leaders, associate directors and shared resource leaders. In the subsequent years, these people worked on writing their sections, while we edited and wrote a 30-page overview document. Ultimately, we submitted a 2,300-page application.

We then began preparing for the site visit four months later when 20 reviewers came to St. Jude for a day as we presented our science in 10-minute increments and answered any questions they had.

This “exceptional” score reflects an ongoing growth in the appreciation of our position as one of the world’s premier cancer research institutions. I could not be prouder of the incredible team of people and their many dedicated hours that made this achievement possible. Such recognition enables us to recruit top talent from across the country and around the world to come to St. Jude to further our goal of finding cures and saving children.

Our vision looking forward is to change the outlook for pediatric cancer patients through precision therapies and new cures, coming out of our fundamental basic science discoveries in genomics, epigenetics and immunotherapy. Work from our labs and others has pointed to these areas as potential game-changers in the field.

One of the things I am passionate about as a director is achieving through collaboration. We have developed a strategic plan that leverages collaboration both within the center and nationally in pursuit of our goals. The most rewarding part of my work at St. Jude is helping to unite our laboratory, clinical and survivorship scientists to pursue the most impactful science possible. The mission of helping our patients is at the center of all that we do.