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Research students hold the future for curing childhood cancer at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Brian Walton (Source: WTOL) Brian Walton (Source: WTOL)
St. Jude patient Brody and his mom Lisa (Source: WTOL) St. Jude patient Brody and his mom Lisa (Source: WTOL)

MEMPHIS (WTOL) - Your $100 ticket for the St. Jude Dream Home goes to the life-saving research and work at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The hospital wouldn't be able to properly heal kids without it.

In addition to the doctors and nurses, researchers at the hospital also wake up every morning with one goal of curing childhood cancer.

We saw that first-hand when we visited St. Jude in April.

We met 10 year-old Brody from Illinois, who has called St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital home since last fall.

He would rather not be here, undergoing treatment for leukemia, but what a blessing the hospital and its people have been for him and his family.

His mom Lisa can't say enough about everyone who has been caring for him.

“The researchers, the doctors, I feel like they really just don't give up and I've often said to many people, 'does anybody sleep around here?' You know, 'do you ever take a day off?'”

It sure seems like they don't. The hospital is bustling with doctors, nurses, and research specialists around the clock, 365 days a year.

We focus, and rightfully so, on the treatment areas of this incredible hospital.

But there is also a research side. Several flags are hanging from the ceiling, representing the countries that all the hardworking researchers are from.

“The hospital itself, research is in the name and that's really what drives what's going on within the treatment for our patients here,” said Brian Walton, Senior Vice President and Associate Dean of the hospital’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

Walton is in charge of a program that's coming into its second year.

Students have different lab assignments and after the first year, they will go into a research lab for the next three to four years.

Someone here might find a cure for childhood cancer.

“That is our hope. We've brought in some really, really talented bright young minds and what they will do is reinvigorate the research lab. So they'll come in and they'll question how we're doing things currently, which is all part of the scientific process,” Walton said.

The students will focus on pediatric medicine and research.

Walton says the applications coming in show the students have the passion to make a difference.

“The goal is to really eradicate catastrophic childhood disease. So if I can help in any way in recruiting somebody who is going to figure that out, short term, long term, whatever it takes," said Walton.

One of the students in the research program was a St. Jude kid. He has done tremendous work for the hospital and is said to be one of the best ambassadors for the program.

More proof that the program is on solid footing for the future? They already have commitments for their second year of classes, starting in July, and they're already recruiting for the third year.

“As a parent myself, I'm thinking about it, I am thankful that my kids didn't have to come to St. Jude but I'm grateful there is a place they could have.” Walton said.

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