When did you first become involved with St. Louis Children’s Hospital?
When we moved back to St. Louis 21 years ago, I was looking to get involved in the community. My parents had always been philanthropically involved with Washington University and instilled in me a strong sense of responsibility to give back to the community. Because we were looking to start our own family, I was drawn to the mission of Children’s Hospital. With encouragement from longtime hospital supporter Becky Hailand, I joined the Foundation’s Development Board and eventually found my way to the Foundation Board.
What sparked your imagination about the CDI?
When the Foundation launched its Care and Cures campaign to create the CDI in 2005, I knew I wanted to contribute. But I wasn’t interested in investing in buildings. What excited me was the timing of the CDI’s inception. Washington University had just sequenced the genome. Couple that with the fact that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other public sources were making cuts in their funding, and it just seemed like the right time to invest in some groundbreaking research.
But why pediatric research?
There just isn’t enough money spent on pediatric care relative to overall medical research dollars. The least amount of dollars is being spent in an area that could make the biggest impact. That just seems backward to me. When you invest in pediatric research, you create the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of millions of children for years to come. It is what Dr. William Danforth refers to as saving lives wholesale.
Has the CDI met your expectations so far?
I originally invested in the Congenital Heart Disease Center of the CDI. And there has been some noteworthy progress made in that area. But here’s the thing about research. There is no immediate payback, there is no instant gratification. I wasn’t looking for that. I was looking to provide some of these researchers investment dollars so that they could take some risks. With the NIH funding going down, some of the riskiest, most highly impactful research just doesn’t get done because they’re only looking for the safe bet, the single or the double. I think it would be great to just go for the home run. ›
In addition to the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation Board of Trustees, Jim serves on the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center Leadership Council