VOL. 129 | NO. 124 | Thursday, June 26, 2014
St. Jude Names Downing New CEO
By Don Wade
Dr. James R. Downing will become the new CEO of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, effective July 15.
St. Jude announced Downing’s appointment on Wednesday, June 25. He most recently had served as the deputy director, executive vice president and scientific director of the hospital. 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.
“Dr. Downing is an exceptional scientist whose visionary approach to the next era of growth and discovery at St. Jude will mirror the legacy established by Danny Thomas more than 50 years ago,” Terry Burman, chairman of the St. Jude Board of Governors, said in a statement.
Downing’s primary focus will be to oversee a new era of clinical, research and infrastructure expansion throughout St. Jude’s global network. He said he wants to “ensure that St. Jude remains the global leader in the fight against pediatric cancer and other deadly illnesses, continuing to set the global agenda to achieve our mission and advance cures.”
Among Downing’s goals will be to continue growth in the number of cancer patients treated on the St. Jude campus; expansion of St. Jude’s treatment and research on pediatric solid tumors; a significant expansion of the hospital’s International Outreach Program; incorporating an unprecedented level of comprehensive genomic analyses into the clinical work-up of every child treated; increasing the number of patients enrolled in the St. Jude LIFE long-term follow-up survivor study; and establishing a formalized patient advocacy consortium in partnership with existing organizations.
Downing will be the sixth CEO since St. Jude opened in 1962. He succeeds Dr. William E. Evans, who is retiring from the position after 10 years and returning to full-time work in his long-standing pharmacogenomics research program at St. Jude.