St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Last updated
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital logo.svg
St Judes grass.jpg
Main entrance
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
USA Tennessee location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Shown in Tennessee
Location262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Coordinates 35°09′12″N90°02′32″W / 35.153469°N 90.042207°W / 35.153469; -90.042207 Coordinates: 35°09′12″N90°02′32″W / 35.153469°N 90.042207°W / 35.153469; -90.042207
Care system Private & Charity
Type Specialized
Standards JCAHO accreditation
Emergency department No
OpenedFebruary 4, 1962
Lists Hospitals in Tennessee

Saint Jude Children's Research Hospital, founded in 1962, is a pediatric treatment and research facility focused on children's catastrophic diseases, particularly leukemia and other cancers. The hospital costs about US$2.8 million a day to run, but patients are not charged for their care. [1] It is located in Memphis, Tennessee, and is a nonprofit medical corporation designated as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization by the Internal Revenue Service. [2]



St. Jude was founded by entertainer Danny Thomas in 1962, with help from Lemuel Diggs and Thomas' close friend from Miami, automobile dealer Anthony Abraham. The hospital was founded on the premise that "no child should die in the dawn of life". [3] This idea resulted from a promise that Thomas, a Maronite Catholic, had made to a saint years before the hospital was founded. Thomas was a comedian who was struggling to get a break in his career and living paycheck to paycheck. When his first child was about to be born, he attended Mass in Detroit, and put his last $7.00 in the offering bin. He prayed to Saint Jude Thaddeus for a means to provide for his family, and about a week later, he obtained a gig that paid 10 times what he had put in the offering bin. After that time, Thomas believed in the power of prayer. He promised St. Jude Thaddeus that if the saint made him successful, he would one day build him a shrine. Years later, Thomas became an extremely successful comedian and built St. Jude Children's Research Hospital as a shrine to St. Jude Thaddeus to honor his promise. [4]

In 1957, Thomas, a Lebanese-American, founded the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC), which helped him realize his dream. ALSAC is also the fundraising organization of St. Jude. Since St. Jude opened its doors in 1962, ALSAC has had the responsibility of raising the necessary funds to keep the hospital open. Memphis was chosen at the suggestion of Catholic Cardinal Samuel Stritch, a Tennessee native who had been a spiritual advisor to Thomas since he presided at Thomas's confirmation in Thomas's boyhood home of Toledo, Ohio. [5] [6]

Although it was named after Thomas's patron saint, St. Jude is not a Catholic hospital and is a secular institution not affiliated with any religious organization. [7]

In 2007, Chili's restaurant chain pledged $50 million to fund the construction of the seven-story Chili's Care Center, adding 340,000 square feet (32,000 m2), providing space for the department of radiological services, The Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium, two floors of outpatient clinics, one floor of inpatient clinics and rooms, two floors of laboratory space, an office floor and an unfinished level for future expansion.

In June 2008, Kay Kafe, funded by Sterling Jewelers, was opened. The space features a lounge area, a large dining area and a variety of new dining options, providing an area where families and staff can relax away from the treatment areas. [8]

In 2014, the Marlo Thomas Center for Global Education and Collaboration was opened as part of the hospital. [9] In 2017, the St. Jude Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences accepted its inaugural class of PhD students.

The hospital

A child playing congas in the Amy Grant Music Room at Target House, one of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital's housing facilities. Amy Grant Music Room.jpg
A child playing congas in the Amy Grant Music Room at Target House, one of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital's housing facilities.

Discoveries at St. Jude have profoundly changed how doctors treat children with cancer and other catastrophic illnesses. [10] [11] Since St. Jude was established, the survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common type of childhood cancer, has increased from 4 percent in 1962 to 94 percent today. [11] During this time, the overall survival rate for childhood cancers has risen from 20 percent to 80 percent. [12] St. Jude has treated children from across the United States and from more than 70 countries. Doctors around the world consult with St. Jude on their toughest cases. [13] Also, St. Jude has an International Outreach Program to improve the survival rates of children with catastrophic illnesses worldwide through the transfer of knowledge, technology and organizational skills. [14] St. Jude treats infants, children, teens, and young adults up to age 21 and for some conditions, age 25. [15]

Corporate structure

Donald Pinkel was the first director of St. Jude and served from 1962 until 1973. His successor, Alvin Mauer, was director from 1973 to 1983. Joseph Simone was the hospital's third director from 1983 to 1992. Arthur W. Nienhuis was CEO and director of St. Jude from 1993 until 2004. William E. Evans, the hospital's fifth director, served from 2004 to 2014. He was succeeded by current CEO and director James R. Downing on July 15, 2014.

As of 2018, St. Jude's scientific director was James I. Morgan, Ph.D. [16]

St. Jude's board of directors is chaired by Christopher B. George, MD, and includes Joyce Aboussie, Ruth Gaviria and Tony Thomas (producer). [17]

Awards and achievements

St. Jude and over 46 of its staff members have been the recipients of numerous exemplary awards and achievements. For example, in 2010 St. Jude Children's Research Hospital was named the number one children's cancer hospital in the U.S by U.S. News & World Report. [18] It has also been named one of the top 10 companies to work for in academia by The Scientist for 7 successive years. [19] Most notably, Peter C. Doherty, Ph.D., of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital was co-recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for work related to how the immune system kills virus-infected cells. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital won the 2020 Webby Award for Health & Fitness in the category Apps, Mobile & Voice. [20]

Affiliated hospitals

St. Jude is associated with several affiliated hospitals in the United States to further its efforts beyond its own physical walls. The hospital uses its Domestic Affiliates Program to form this partnership with the other pediatric programs. This program is a network of hematology clinics, hospitals, and universities that are united under the mission of St. Jude.

These sites are used as a means of referring eligible patients to St. Jude as well as a location to administer some care. Through the Domestic Affiliates Program staff at St. Jude work together and collaborate with those at the other institutions. Affiliated sites are expected to comply with standards set by St. Jude and are audited to ensure proper and quality care. [21]

Currently the Domestic Affiliate Clinic sites include:

St. Jude also works closely with Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center, also located in downtown Memphis. St. Jude patients needing certain procedures, such as brain surgery, may undergo procedures at LeBonheur Hospital. Both St. Jude and Le Bonheur are teaching hospitals affiliated with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. University of Tennessee physicians training in pediatrics, surgery, radiology, and other specialties undergo service rotations at St. Jude Hospital.

The Children's Cancer Center of Lebanon was established in Beirut on April 12, 2002. The center is an affiliate of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and works in association with the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC). [23]

A commitment has been made to establish a US$412 million research facility in Memphis, Tennessee, one purpose of which will be to serve as a collaborative hub. [16]


St. Jude's is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with annual expenses, as of 2018, of over $1.4 billion funded by nearly $1.5 billion in donations. [24] Donations for St. Jude comes from many sources, including government grants and insurance recoveries, but the principal source of funding (75% average) is from the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC) - a semi-independent entity that raises funds using the name of St. Jude. [25] Of a dollar donated to the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities, about $0.82 goes directly to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. [25]

All medically eligible patients who are accepted for treatment at St. Jude are treated without regard to the family's ability to pay. St. Jude is one of a few pediatric research organizations in the United States where families never pay for treatments that are not covered by insurance, and families without insurance are never asked to pay. In addition to providing medical services to eligible patients, St. Jude also assists families with transportation, lodging, and meals. Three separate specially-designed patient housing facilities— Tri Delta Place for short-term (up to one week), Ronald McDonald House for medium-term (one week to 3 months), and Target House for long-term (3 months or more)—provide housing for patients and up to three family members, with no cost to the patient. These policies, along with research expenses and other costs, cause the hospital to incur more than $2.4 million in operating costs each day. [26]

Philanthropic aid

From 2000 to 2005, 83.7% of every dollar received by St. Jude went to the current or future needs of St. Jude. In 2002 to 2004, 47% of program expenses went to patient care and 41% to research. [27] As of 2012, 81 cents of every dollar donated to St. Jude goes directly to its research and treatment. [12]

To cover operating costs, ALSAC conducts many fund-raising events and activities. The FedEx St. Jude Classic, a PGA Tour event, is one of the most visible fund-raising events for the hospital. Other fund-raising programs include the St. Jude Math-A-Thon, Up 'til Dawn, direct mailings, radiothons and television marketing.

St. Jude also has a merchandise catalog called the Hope Catalog. The catalog contains everything from shirts to office items, and from patient art to "Give Thanks" wristbands.

Thanks and Giving

In November 2004, St. Jude launched its inaugural Thanks and Giving campaign which encourages consumers to help raise funds at participating retailers by adding a donation at checkout or by purchasing specialty items to benefit St. Jude. The campaign is supported by network television spots, advertisements in major publications, interactive marketing on Yahoo! and a movie trailer that runs on 20,000 screens nationwide, runs from Thanksgiving until the New Year. The campaign was created by St. Jude National Outreach Director Marlo Thomas and her siblings Terre Thomas and Tony Thomas, children of hospital founder Danny Thomas. Customers nationwide are asked to help raise funds at participating retailers by adding a donation at check out or by purchasing specialty items to benefit St. Jude.

Corporations give customers a host of opportunities to support St. Jude. [28] The ultimate goal is to increase awareness with the hope that people will come to identify Thanksgiving with St. Jude, said Joyce Aboussie, vice chairwoman of the nonprofit's board. [29] The official kick-off event for the Thanks and Giving campaign is the Give Thanks Walk. This event is a noncompetitive 5K that is now held in 75 cities across the country. Those participating in the race are encouraged to form teams, invite family and friends, and raise money for St. Jude. These walks have raised over $11 million to date. [30]

Other funding initiatives

One of the hospital's most recent and successful fund-raising efforts has been the Dream Home Giveaway. "About St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway". St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Retrieved January 29, 2008. The giveaway allows contest entrants to reserve tickets for $100 each to qualify to win homes valued between $300,000 and $600,000. The Dream Home Giveaway, one of the largest national fund-raising programs, is conducted in cities across the United States.

Many high schools around the country are creating student-led and student-run organizations called Team Up for St. Jude. These programs consist of high school students putting on events that raise funds and awareness for St. Jude while showing their school spirit. One of the main events is a letter-writing campaign in which the students are sent pre-written letters that include stories of a patient and ask for donations. The high school students often have a "letter-writing party" to address and send the letters to their family and friends asking them to support St. Jude. [31] Hoover High School (Hoover, AL) has a program that has brought in many fundraising ideas including "Team Up Week" which consists of prize wheels, inflatables, karaoke, cake walk, etc. to raise funds and awareness for the hospital. [32] Though this program is done on a much a smaller scale than the college program Up 'til Dawn, it has the potential to grow and increase awareness.

At various college campuses, some student organizations, fraternities and sororities raise funds in a program called Up 'til Dawn [33] Phi Mu Delta National Fraternity is partnered with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The fraternity's second core belief, "I Believe in Service... service to the college; service to every group organized for the common good; service to the individual. I believe in service defined in the terms of voluntary sacrifice for the welfare of those with whom I come in contact." has helped shape many young men of admirable quality and exceptional character towards a dedication to St. Jude and other equally important causes. [34] Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) Fraternity partnered with St. Jude in the 1970s and 1980s to help raise money to fight childhood cancer. The fraternity renewed its link to St. Jude as its philanthropy of emphasis in 2008. [35] [36]

St. Jude is an International Philanthropic Project of Epsilon Sigma Alpha International, a co-ed service sorority. As of April 2013, ESA has raised more than $160 million in cash and pledges for St. Jude. [37] [38]

In 1999, the Delta Delta Delta collegiate sorority formed a philanthropic partnership with St. Jude. [39] Tri Delta supports St. Jude nationally and supports cancer charities at a local level. [40] At the hospital in Memphis, the sorority donated the Teen Room for teenage patients to relax and spend time with each other. In July 2010, Tri Delta completed its "10 by 10" goal, raising over $10 million in less than four years, six years short of the original goal. Those funds were used to sponsor the Tri Delta Patient Care Floor in the Chili's Care Center. Upon completion of the "10 by 10" campaign, the sorority announced a new fundraising goal of $15 million in 5 years to name the Specialty Clinic located in the Patient Care Center. [41] Three and a half years later, Delta Delta Delta had raised $15 million and completed its goal ahead of schedule. [42] In July 2014, the on-campus residence center was renamed Tri Delta Place as a result of Tri Delta's pledge of $60 Million in 10 years. [43]

In July 2005, Kappa Alpha Psi (ΚΑΨ) fraternity announced St. Jude Children's Research Hospital as its national philanthropic partner. Since that time, members across the country have joined in the fight against pediatric cancer, sickle cell disease, and other catastrophic illnesses. Kappa Alpha Psi has answered the call to service by raising more than $400,000—representing the largest contribution that Kappa Alpha Psi has donated to any charity. Members of Kappa Alpha Psi have committed to raise $500,000 in support of the hospital's sickle cell program. St. Jude has one of the largest pediatric sickle cell research and treatment programs in the world. St. Jude is the first known hospital in the world to cure sickle cell disease through bone marrow transplantation. Today, bone marrow transplantation still offers the only cure for sickle cell disease. Members of Kappa Alpha Psi reach out to churches in their local communities to host a Sunday of Hope each January in support of St. Jude. January was selected because this is the month of Kappa's founding. During the Sunday of Hope, churches will take up a special offering in honor of the patients and families of St. Jude. At the 2008 ALSAC/St. Jude Board and Awards Dinner, Kappa Alpha Psi received the Volunteer Group of the Year Award for their efforts in the inaugural year of the Sunday of Hope program which secured more than 130 churches to participate and raised more than $280,000. [44]

Lambda Theta Alpha sorority serves thousands of hours each year to a variety of philanthropic causes and needs. In the effort to create a more united and bigger impact nationally, Lambda Theta Alpha selected a national philanthropy. In January 2010, LTA became an official collegiate partner to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, becoming the first individual Latino Greek organization to commit fully to the hospital's efforts. With this partnership, LTA provides our resources of community service and activism and more importantly, another direct link to the Hispanic community for St. Jude. LTA has pledged to raise awareness about childhood cancer and St. Jude in the Latin community, as well as fundraise for the hospital through a variety of events and programs. [45] [46]

Past events have included: sporting tournaments, charity galas, informational meetings, and much more. [46]

Another successful event is the Country Cares for St. Jude Kids radiothon. During these events, country radio stations around the country allow those touched by St. Jude to share stories with listeners, highlighting patient stories, and having exciting promotions. Listeners are encouraged to call in and become a Partner In Hope by making either a one-time or monthly donation to the hospital. The 200 stations involved have helped raise over $400 million since 1989. Country artists have also supported St. Jude through concerts, hospital visits, call-ins, and other forms of support. [47]

Eagles for St. Jude was a program created in 2007 by Stanford Financial Group, when it paid to become title sponsor of the St. Jude Classic, the annual PGA Tour event in Memphis. The program, and sponsorship, ended in February 2009, when it was found that Stanford Financial Group was nothing more than a Ponzi scheme, having defrauded investors out of $8 billion, with a small fraction of that stolen money having been channeled into the Eagles for St. Jude program. [48]

McDonald's Monopoly Game

In 1995, St. Jude received an anonymous letter postmarked in Dallas, Texas, containing a $1 million winning McDonald's Monopoly game piece. McDonald's officials came to the hospital, accompanied by a representative from the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, and verified it as a winner. [49] Although game rules prohibited the transfer of prizes, and even after learning that the piece was sent by an individual involved in an embezzlement scheme intended to defraud McDonald's, McDonald's waived the rule and made the annual $50,000 annuity payments. [50]

Celebrity visitors

Over the years, many celebrities such as musicians, political figures, actors and others have become involved with this foundation, visiting the hospital to meet some of the kids and/or filming commercials to encourage individuals to donate to St. Jude. These include:

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