Published on October 28, 2011

Dr. Joseph V. Simone Tapped to Lead Baptist’s Cancer Center

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Dr. Joseph V. Simone, former CEO of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and former physician-in-chief at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, will serve as medical director of Baptist Memorial Health Care's comprehensive cancer center, which is slated to open in 2014 in the Wolf River medical corridor in Germantown.

In August 2011, the state of Tennessee approved a $65 million certificate of need for Baptist to build the center, which will be the first of its kind in the area and will allow Baptist to consolidate many existing cancer services under one roof.

The center will include a large diagnostic area and radiation oncology space, chemotherapy and infusion services, a stem cell transplant area, tumor registry, an interdisciplinary clinic, as well as physicians' and administrative offices.

Since August, Baptist Memorial Medical Group, a part of Baptist Memorial Health Care, has been acquiring oncology physician practices, including the Family Cancer Center, Boston Baskin Cancer Group and Integrity Oncology, with the goal of having the groups work together within the new center.

"He is a legendary leader in this community and across the country," said Jason Little, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Baptist.

The son of Italian immigrants, Simone grew up in Chicago and earned a scholarship to Loyola University in Chicago. After completing his medical school fellowship, he came to Memphis to begin his professional career at St. Jude, which had only been open four years at that time. He spent 24 years at St. Jude, where he was part of the team that developed the first curative treatment for childhood leukemia.

In 1992, he was invited to become the physician-in-chief of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where he began to focus on quality improvement in cancer care and helped develop the Disease Management Program, a precursor to the American Society of Clinical Oncology Practice Initiative, which gives clinicians caring for cancer patients access to quality measurement and improvement measures.

After his time at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, Simone moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, where he helped build the Huntsman Cancer Institute. He still holds the title of clinical director emeritus there and is also a professor emeritus of pediatrics and medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

"It is a privilege to try to help cancer patients in this area by improving the organization with access to new research and reaching out to the Memphis community," said Simone. "My goal is to put a foundation in place that will be useful to the cancer center for years to come."

According to Sean Henneberger, associate executive director of the American Cancer Society, Memphis office, 34,750 new cancer cases will be diagnosed in Tennessee in 2011, and that number is expected to grow during the next several years. In addition, more people are surviving cancer, and they need convenient access to outpatient services, Henneberger noted. He added having a comprehensive center for cancer services will help make care more efficient and convenient for patients, as well as facilitate optimal outcomes.

Since April 2009, BMMG has acquired a number of primary care, internal medicine and sub-specialty physician practices, and it has ongoing plans to expand to other areas and specialties. Within the past year, BMMG has formed partnerships with Stern Cardiovascular, Memphis Lung Physicians, Finn and Associates, The Light Clinic and Memphis Internal Medicine.