- President and Chief Executive Officer, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
James R. Downing, M.D., is president and chief executive officer of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. As the architect of a new six-year strategic plan, he is leading the expansion of St. Jude clinical care and research programs in Memphis and around the globe.
A renowned leader in pediatric cancer research, Dr. Downing focuses his work on understanding the genetic basis of cancer and using that information to improve the treatment of children with cancer. He was instrumental in launching the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project (PCGP), which has sequenced the normal and cancer genomes of more than 800 young cancer patients with some of the least understood and most aggressive tumors.
Dr. Downing joined St. Jude in 1986. Prior to taking the helm of St. Jude, Dr. Downing served as the institution's scientific and deputy director and as an executive vice president in the organization.
He has received numerous honors, including the Association for Molecular Pathology Award for Excellence in Molecular Diagnostics, which recognizes lifetime, pioneering achievement, particularly regarding molecular diagnostics and molecular medicine. In 2013, Dr. Downing was elected to the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, and in 2016, he was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.