James R. Downing


Dr. James R. Downing is president and chief executive officer of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Downing’s laboratory work focuses on understanding the genetic basis of cancer and using that information to improve treatments. He was instrumental in launching the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project, an ambitious sequencing effort to discover why childhood cancer arises, spreads, and resists treatment. This landmark project has ushered in a decade of discoveries that continues to benefit children.

Beyond research, Downing has been a driving force to take St. Jude to the world. He has championed an expansive program to raise pediatric cancer survival rates internationally. This is being accomplished in part through a global alliance of health care providers who work to ensure children everywhere have access to quality care.

Downing has received numerous honors, including election to the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has received the Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering Prize, the E. Donnall Thomas Lecture and Prize from the American Society of Hematology, and the Pediatric Oncology Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Most recently, he was elected as a fellow of the American Association for Cancer Research Academy Class of 2022.

James R. Downing Headshot