In this new position, Mullighan will help guide precision medicine, preclinical and other strategic research initiatives for the center, which is the nation’s first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. He joined the St. Jude Department of Pathology faculty in 2008, and serves as co-leader of the Cancer Center’s Hematological Malignancies Program.
“I am honored and excited to accept this role as deputy director in the St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center,” Mullighan said. “The last decade has wrought enormous advances in our understanding of the genetic basis of leukemia and other childhood cancers. The Cancer Center is poised to have a key role in translating this knowledge into better diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to improve outcomes for children with cancer locally and globally, and I look forward to helping St. Jude achieve these goals.”
Mullighan holds the William E. Evans Endowed Chair and serves as medical director of the St. Jude Biorepository. He joined the hospital in 2004. Mullighan has received a 2017 National Cancer Institute R35 Outstanding Investigator Award and the 2016 American Society of Hematology William Dameshek Prize. In 2016, he was the first recipient of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation Robert J. Arceci Innovation Award.
His research focuses on using integrated genomic, epigenomic and experimental approaches to understand acute lymphoblastic leukemia and related disorders. He has led landmark studies that have defined the inherited and somatic genetic alterations in ALL. The findings have led to genomically informed diagnostic approaches and multiple clinical trials testing precision medicine approaches. In 2018, Mullighan established the Public Resource of Patient-derived and Expanded Leukemias, or PROPEL, initiative. The initiative makes available to the scientific community one of the world’s largest collections of clinically and genetically characterized xenograft leukemia samples from children and adults.
“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Mullighan to the Cancer Center senior leadership team,” said Charles Roberts, M.D., Ph.D., St. Jude executive vice president and Cancer Center director. “He brings a distinguished scientific track record in the understanding of pediatric leukemia and has demonstrated exceptional leadership in his service as co-leader of our Hematological Malignancies Program. His commitment and expertise will be an incredible asset to our senior team, and I look forward to working closely with him in strategically advancing our research efforts for children with cancer.”
In August, the St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center earned the highest possible rank of “exceptional” and the best numerical score in the hospital’s history from the NCI during the renewal of its $36 million Cancer Center Support Grant. An NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center like St. Jude must possess a deep and broad research-based portfolio that extends from the laboratory to the clinic, and must include population-based science. Centers must also be actively engaged in professional and public cancer education and outreach.
At St. Jude, the Comprehensive Cancer Center is organized as five cross-disciplinary, multi-departmental programs aligned to specific diseases and research concepts: Developmental Biology and Solid Tumor, Neurobiology and Brain Tumor, Hematological Malignancies, Cancer Control and Survivorship, and Cancer Biology. The Cancer Center supports nine centralized, state-of-the-art shared resources to facilitate the design, implementation, analysis, interpretation and reporting of research.
“Our center forms the heart of our vision for cancer research at St. Jude, encompassing efforts from our laboratories to clinical trials for our patients,” Roberts said. “We also work collaboratively with researchers and institutions around the country and seek to help both our local community and children fighting cancer everywhere.”
Mullighan received his undergraduate degree in medicine and surgery from the University of Adelaide in Australia, a master’s degree from the University of London in England and a research Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Adelaide. He is a fellow in haematology of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.
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About St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and cures childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude freely shares the breakthroughs it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. To learn more, visit www.stjude.org or follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.