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Sara Federico, MD, named director of the Solid Tumor Division at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

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St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Sara Federico, MD, named director of the Solid Tumor Division at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital


Dr. Sara Federico

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Credit: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

(Memphis, Tenn. – February 7, 2024) St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital today announced Sara M. Federico, MD, has been named director of the institution’s Solid Tumor Division within the Department of Oncology. Federico is an internationally recognized leader in pediatric oncology whose contributions have defined the landscape of treatment for high-risk childhood solid tumors, such as neuroblastoma.

“Dr. Federico’s experience will pave the way for new discoveries that will help advance cure rates for patients with high-risk cancers by identifying, testing and optimizing novel therapeutic strategies,” said Julie R. Park, MD, Department of Oncology chair. “Dr. Federico is an outstanding and thoughtful mentor, and we are excited to see her vision for this department take shape.” 

Federico is a leader in clinical research, serving as the principal investigator of numerous clinical trials for the treatment of high-risk solid tumors. Her research focuses on some of the most challenging cancers, such as high-risk neuroblastoma and relapsed sarcomas. Federico is currently leading five clinical trials, including two pioneering new approaches to treat neuroblastoma. The first is a large international Phase 3 study for children with newly-diagnosed high-risk neuroblastoma being conducted through the Children’s Oncology Group, a large pediatric cancer cooperative group. The second is a multi-site Phase 2 study evaluating a novel treatment combination for children with relapsed or refractory neuroblastoma, who historically have a survival rate less than 20%. 

“I’m thrilled for this opportunity to lead a collaborative, dedicated team of investigators that is passionate about improving cure rates for children with solid tumors,” said Federico. “Together we hope to advance the field through the translation of critical scientific discoveries into innovative therapies and clinical trials which will ultimately lead to improved patient outcomes.”

Federico joined St. Jude in 2007 as a fellow in pediatric hematology/oncology. She rose to St. Jude faculty level in 2011 as an assistant member in the Division of Solid Malignancies in the Department of Oncology and was appointed as a full faculty member in 2023. 

Federico earned her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and medical degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2020 Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). She also serves on national and international committees such as the NCI National Clinical Trials Network Core Correlative Sciences Committee and the International Neuroblastoma Risk Group Task Force Committee.

Federico replaces Alberto Pappo, MD, who has been director of the Solid Tumor Division since 2010 and is internationally recognized for his work on rare pediatric solid tumors, including sarcoma and melanoma. He will continue his research and mentorship at St. Jude as a member of the division. He remains co-leader of the Development Biology and Solid Tumor Program within the St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center, which supports five major interdisciplinary research programs focused on translating basic science discoveries into curative therapies for children with cancer, while minimizing long-term side effects.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and cures childhood cancer, sickle cell disease, and other life-threatening disorders. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to 80% since the hospital opened more than 60 years ago. St. Jude shares the breakthroughs it makes to help doctors and researchers at local hospitals and cancer centers around the world improve the quality of treatment and care for even more children. To learn more, visit, read St. Jude Progress a digital magazine, and follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.

St. Jude Media Relations Contact

Chelsea Bryant
Cell: (256) 244-2048

Desk: (901) 595-0564


Rae Lyn Hartley

Desk: (901) 595-4419
Cell: (901) 686-2597 

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