Post doc at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, USA is ranked number 1 of all pediatric cancer hospitals in the USA by US news.
St Jude Childrens hospital – US News (New window)
St. Jude was founded in 1962 by comedian Danny Thomas and was one of the first mixed-race hospitals in the Southern USA, treating and hiring people of all backgrounds. It was one of the first hospitals to treat childhood cancer and played a significant role in raising survival rates from around 20% to what it is today: over 80%. St. Jude is also one of the centers that produce the most research in my area: cognitive late sequelae after pediatric cancer. Half of the references in my dissertation were from research conducted at St. Jude.
I applied for and received a position as a post-doctoral fellow here, starting in September 2016, and have now been here for almost two years. I work in the Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Control with data from two extraordinary databases, “St. Jude Lifetime Cohort Study” and “Childhood Cancer Survivor Study,” the former including 3300 participants and the latter including over 24 000 participants. Both databases contain information on childhood cancer survivorship. While we celebrate the substantial increases in survival rates, we also must acknowledge that survival comes at a cost. Survivors suffer from physical, mental, and cognitive late effects, and much more knowledge is needed to learn how to best care for this growing group of survivors with extensive health care needs.
During my time at St. Jude I have enjoyed access to extraordinary data and have been impressed by the level of teamwork. Each research study is a collaboration between multidisciplinary teams, with psychologists, medical doctors, statisticians, epidemiologists, data analysts, and many more contributing as needed.
The organization is designed to conduct research and provides extensive resources in text editing, publishing, and biomedical communication. Of course, there are also things I have not enjoyed as much. I do miss “fika” terribly, and the administrative routines that form the “red tape of America” are challenging. If you thought Swedish bureaucracy was bad, know this: it can be ten times worse. Memphis itself has been a pleasant surprise. It’s not Los Angeles, New York, or Boston, but it’s very genuine and steeped in American history, both the dark and bright sides. And yes, there is such a thing as Southern hospitality! People here are extremely friendly, helpful, and encouraging. As Europeans we might frown upon stereotypical phrases like, “Have a nice day,” “I love your dress,” or “Happy Friday (or whatever day)” but in the long run all those cheerful platitudes will soothe your soul.