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St. Jude hopes to draw more Memphians, Mid-Southerners into science careers with new expansion plan

Updated: Apr. 27, 2021 at 10:39 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital announced the largest investment in its history Tuesday, an $11.5 billion strategic plan that will carry forward the fight against childhood cancer and other diseases for the next six years.

It means 1,400 new jobs in Memphis and offers a bold new pathway toward finding cures and new treatments for sick children across the world.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital CEO Dr. James Downing says St. Jude’s six-year strategic plan has a goal of uniting the world around the hospital’s lifesaving mission.

“We are calling for individuals who treat pediatric cancer and other catastrophic diseases to come together to work with St. Jude so we can change the outlook for children not only in the United States and other developed countries but really on a global level,” said Downing.

The St. Jude vision includes inventing the next generation of microscopes.

“That will allow us to look at cells in ways we’ve never even dreamed of and give us new insights into how does normal biology work and see how that biology has been altered by diseases,” said Downing.

The plan calls for new investment in data science, taking the massive amount of research St. Jude generates and using artificial intelligence and a new army of St. Jude computer nerds to uncover pathways to treatments and cures.

“Our goal is for St. Jude to be a world leader in the application of data science to biologic discovery,” Downing explained.

The dream is to hire 70 new St. Jude faculty members who would run labs to investigate cutting-edge treatments and cures and 630 new hires would be a part of the team pursuing St. Jude’s research goals.

“It’s research technicians, it’s data-based specialists, it’s computer science,” said Downing. “On the clinical side, almost 400 individuals, nurses to pharmacists to support personnel, over 300 support personnel we need to run the institution.”

There are a million other exciting details of the St. Jude strategic plan but embedded in the new dream is this: a framework to get more Memphians and Mid-Southerners interested in a career in science.

The plan calls for St. Jude internships for high school seniors and college students who would get first-hand opportunity to see the science and the medicine practiced on the sprawling Memphis campus in the hope that someday, more of us will qualify for jobs to go to work right there!

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