St. Jude Children's Research Hospital names James R. Downing CEO
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital has appointed James R. Downing, M.D., as its new CEO, effective July 15. Downing most recently was the deputy director, executive vice president and scientific director of the hospital. Downing's primary focus immediately upon assuming the CEO office will be to oversee a new era of clinical, research and infrastructure expansion throughout the St. Jude global network. He succeeds Dr. William E. Evans, who is retiring from the position after 10 years and returning full time to his long-standing pharmacogenomics research program at St. Jude.
Downing's work as a genome sequencing pioneer, overseeing the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project, was recognized in 2012 by TIME magazine as one of the Top 100 new scientific discoveries.
Taking the reins of the institution that is home to the only NIH/NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children, Downing outlined his vision for St. Jude's next generation of clinical and research expansion, inspired by the responsibility of leading a global enterprise that is nearly 75% funded by the general public. This will include:
- Continuing growth in the number of cancer patients treated on the St. Jude campus
- Expansion of the institution's treatment and research program on pediatric solid tumors, to address the plateau of global progress over the last decade
- A significant expansion of St. Jude's International Outreach Program, a global effort that is focused on teaching practitioners in developing countries how to effectively treat children with cancer, as well as the global expansion of St. Jude-led treatment studies
- Through the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project, St. Jude will incorporate comprehensive genomic analyses into the clinical work-up of every child treated
- Growth in the number of patients enrolled on the St. Jude LIFE long-term follow-up survivor study, a program that is helping to define the long-term health problems of survivors of pediatric cancer and determine how to effectively manage and ultimately eliminate these medical problems
- Establish a formalized patient advocacy consortium, in partnership with existing organizations, to better serve the patient-family community, including acceleration of federal and private drug therapy development and approvals.