St. Jude Children's Research Hospital launches $11.5B plan to expand facilities, research

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital said this commitment is the largest in its history and will include $3.7 billion for pediatric cancer research and care. It is funded almost entirely through donations. (St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital)

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has committed $11.5 billion to a six-year strategic plan that will drive new construction, 1,400 additional jobs and other projects it said will support global research and treatment of pediatric catastrophic diseases.

Described by the research hospital as its largest strategic expansion to date, the plan is “fueled almost entirely” by donations collected through ALSAC, St. Jude’s fundraising and awareness group. It’s split between investments that will expand the hospital’s patient care capacity, clinical research and coordinated international efforts.

“The plan is ambitious, and its goals are far-reaching,” James Downing, M.D., president and CEO of St. Jude, said in the announcement. “We’re committing substantial resources to broaden scientific understanding, raise survival rates, improve quality of life and connect researchers worldwide in the quest to find cures and save children with cancer and other deadly diseases.”

St. Jude said this new commitment comes after a $7 billion strategic plan that helped the hospital accept nearly 20% more cancer patients, hire 30% more faculty and 23% more staff, and kick off multiple large-scale construction projects.

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Founded in 1962, the Memphis, Tennessee, nonprofit reported $2.3 billion in total revenue in its 2019 financial report. Eighty percent of the organization’s funding comes through ALSAC. The hospital said it treats about 7,500 patients annually from the U.S. and abroad and does not charge the families of any patients it treats.

The new effort targets five focus areas: fundamental science, childhood cancer, pediatric catastrophic diseases (such as blood disorders, neurological diseases and infectious diseases), global impact and its workforce and workplace.

More specifically, the hospital outlined $1.3 billion in new construction and renovation projects that will include family housing, patient family services, a research center and other facilities such as administrative buildings.

$3.7 billion of the funds are earmarked for cancer research and related clinical care with a focus on high-risk cancers, relapsed diseases and improving quality of life among survivors.

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$1.1 billion will go toward research and treatment programs for non-cancer pediatric catastrophic diseases. More than $250 million will also be invested toward new technologies and other resources that can support research into these disease areas.

The hospital is tripling investments in its St. Jude Global and St. Jude Global Alliance programs to more than $470 million. Initiatives in this space will include an expansion in worldwide workforce educational programs, the creation of St. Jude-staffed international operation hubs for the Global Alliance network and the development of a program to distribute anti-cancer drugs to children in low- and middle-income countries.

The hospital itself will also be looking to hire nearly 70 new faculty members and supporting laboratory staff across 22 research departments.

“As we move forward with this strategic plan, our mission—to advance cures and means of prevention for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment—remains at the forefront of everything we do,” Downing said. “The mission serves as our compass, and the plan serves as our guide for the journey ahead.”