St. Jude Children's Research Center

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Throughout my treatment for FBC, time and time (and time!) again, I expressed gratitude for the fact that it was I who was diagnosed and not our daughter, a/k/a Sweetly Six. I don’t think that there is anything worse than seeing your child sick and in pain.

In the event that a cancer diagnosis does happen to a child, the Silver Lining is that treatment has come a long, long way. Much of this progress has come from the work done at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

A few years ago, I had the great and wonderful opportunity to teach a Pediatric Palliative Care course at St. Jude’s. Being able to work at there was a great Silver Lining in my life. I had the opportunity to learn so very much about the wonderful organization and about its founder, Danny Thomas.

Here are some of amazing facts about St. Jude’s:

  • St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital opened on February 4, 1962 and was founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas. Its mission is to find cures for children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases through research and treatment.
  • St. Jude has treated children from all 50 states and from around the world.
  • On average, 7,800 active patients visit the hospital each year, most of whom are treated on an outpatient basis.
  • St. Jude has 78 inpatient beds and treats upwards of 260 patients each day.
  • St. Jude is the first and only pediatric cancer center to be designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute.
  • St. Jude is the first institution established for the sole purpose of conducting basic and clinical research and treatment into catastrophic childhood diseases, mainly cancer.
  • Research findings at St. Jude are shared freely with doctors and scientists all over the world.
  • The medical and scientific staff published more than 680 articles in academic journals in 2010, more than any other pediatric cancer research center in the United States. St. Jude’s researchers are published and cited more often in high impact publications than any other private pediatric oncology institution in America.
  • No family ever pays St. Jude for anything (!!!!!!!!!!)
  • St. Jude has developed protocols that have helped push overall survival rates for childhood cancers from less than 20 percent when the hospital opened in 1962 to 80 percent today.
  • In 1962, the survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer, was 4 percent. Today, the survival rate for this once deadly disease is 94 percent, thanks to research and treatment protocols developed at St. Jude.
  • The daily operating cost for St. Jude is $1.7 million, which is primarily covered by public contributions.
  • During the past five years, 81 cents of every dollar received has supported the research and treatment at St. Jude.
  • The Chili’s Care Center, opened in November 2007, integrates patient care and research where rapidly evolving CT (computerized tomography) and MR (magnetic resonance) technologies keep St. Jude at the cutting edge for radiation therapy in a pediatric/adolescent setting. Additionally, a state-of-the-art cyclotron enables St. Jude researchers to undertake many important new PET (positron emission tomography) studies. These imaging techniques facilitate the rapid evaluation of new therapeutic approaches and help choose those most likely to be successful.
  • St. Jude pioneered a combination of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery to treat childhood cancers.
  • Peter C. Doherty, PhD, of St. Jude Immunology, won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1996. He shares the award with Rolf M. Zinkernagel, MD, of the University of Zurich. Their findings have led to breakthroughs in the understanding and treatment of viral infections and cancers, and in the development of organ transplant procedures and vaccines.
  • St. Jude researchers and doctors are treating children with pediatric AIDS, as well as using new drugs and therapies to fight infections.
  • St. Jude was the first institution to develop a cure for sickle cell disease with a bone marrow transplant and has one of the largest pediatric sickle cell programs in the country.
  • St. Jude is a World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Studies on the Ecology of Influenza Viruses in Animals and Birds.
  • St. Jude was the first facility outside the National Institutes of Health to receive federal approval for research involving human gene therapy.
  • The St. Jude faculty includes three National Academy of Sciences members: Peter C. Doherty, PhD, of Immunology; Charles Sherr, MD, PhD, of Tumor Cell Biology; and Robert Webster, PhD, of Infectious Diseases. Sherr and Brenda Schulman, PhD, Structural Biology, hold the coveted title of Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators.
  • St. Jude is the national coordinating center for the National Cancer Institute-funded Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium. St. Jude is the coordinating center for the nationwide Children’s Cancer Survivor Study, funded by the National Cancer Institute. St. Jude is the national coordinating center for the National Cancer Institute-sponsored Pediatric Drug Discovery Consortium. St. Jude is the coordinating center for a national study of sickle cell disease treatment funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Cancer Institute.

What I know for sure is that St. Jude is an extraordinarily unique and special place; one that provides unique, cutting edge, state-of-the-art cancer care to those children and families who need it the most, regardless of their ability to pay (Silver Lining).

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