Auburn University honors St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Dr. James Andrews at 26th annual International Quality of Life Awards

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Auburn University’s College of Human Sciences recognized St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Dr. James R. Andrews as the 26th annual International Quality of Life Awards recipients on Dec. 9 at the Lotte New York Palace in New York City.

Launched in 1994, the International Quality of Life Awards recognizes people and organizations representing all sectors of society that demonstrate a strong commitment to enhancing quality of life through their personal and professional achievements. St. Jude and Andrews were honored for their exemplary contributions to the well-being of individuals, families and communities around the world.

“Tonight, we celebrate the ways in which our honorees improve quality of life for all people and their strong spirit of philanthropy—both of which are critical to the human sciences mission,” said Susan Hubbard, dean of Auburn’s College of Human Sciences. “And it is our hope to see their legacy reflected in our graduates for many years to come.”

Award-winning journalist and daytime talk show pioneer Phil Donahue presented the 2019 IQLA Laureate Award to Dr. James Downing, who accepted on behalf of St. Jude. Donahue is married to Marlo Thomas, daughter of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas and St. Jude’s national outreach director. 

In 1962, St. Jude opened under the vision of entertainer Danny Thomas. St. Jude advances the search for cures and preventive measures of childhood cancer and other life-threatening pediatric diseases as one of the world’s premier pediatric research institutions. The families affected by these diseases never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food.

Over the past 57 years, St. Jude’s research has helped increase the survival rate of childhood cancer from 20 percent to 80 percent. St. Jude also shares its discoveries with doctors and scientists worldwide so that this life-saving knowledge can be disseminated to help children and families far beyond its campus in Memphis, Tennessee. The organization’s most recent initiative, St. Jude Global, connects health care providers around the globe to ensure that every child has access to the best medical care available and that pediatric cancer survival rates increase on the international scale.

As president and CEO of St. Jude, Downing oversees St. Jude Global and helped establish the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project, or PCGP, which was named by TIME magazine in 2012 as one of the year’s top 10 medical breakthroughs. PCGP led to groundbreaking discoveries in the genetic bases of brain tumors, leukemia, peripheral nervous system cancer, eye tumors and Lou Gehrig’s disease—some of the most aggressive and least understood diseases that affect young patients.

“The St. Jude Global goal is to touch 30 percent of the world’s children with cancer in the next 10 years. From that international outreach program, there are now more than 80 countries signed up to be part of the global alliance,” said Downing. “We are going to make a difference. We are going to transform the landscape of care for children with cancer everywhere in the world.”

Auburn alumnus, basketball legend and Emmy award-winning sports analyst Charles Barkley presented the IQLA Lifetime Achievement Award to Andrews.

One of the most trusted names in sports medicine, Andrews is recognized for his prowess in orthopaedic surgery and his groundbreaking research in knee, shoulder and elbow injury prevention and treatment. A globally recognized voice in the medical field, Andrews’ presentations and book, “Any Given Monday,” have changed the face of sports injury prevention and improved quality of life for patients of all ages.

A native of Homer, Louisiana, Andrews has called Birmingham, Alabama, home for more than three decades. After earning an undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University in 1963, where he was the SEC indoor and outdoor pole vault champion, he completed his medical degree at LSU Medical School in 1967 and went on to study under the guidance of the late Dr. Albert Trillat, who is known as the Father of European Knee Surgery. In Birmingham, Andrews founded the Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center and co-founded the American Sports Medicine Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to injury prevention, education and research. He is also a founding partner and medical director of the Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze, Florida. As president and chairman of the Andrews Research and Education Foundation, Andrews has educated more than 400 fellows in the best practices of orthopaedic and sports medicine.

“To be successful at any profession, you must apply and understand the basic ingredients of motivation and goal setting. The attitude for success includes a burning desire, humility, honesty with ethics, compassion and appreciation,” said Andrews. “Take a hold of those that fall behind you, give them a hand and help them along.”

In the arenas of professional and collegiate sports, Andrews currently serves as medical director and orthopaedic surgeon for Auburn Athletics, senior orthopaedic consultant at the University of Alabama, senior consultant for the Washington Redskins, orthopaedic medical director for the Tampa Bay Rays and medical director of the LPGA. He serves on the Medical and Safety Advisory Committee of USA Baseball and on the board of Little League Baseball, Inc.

Among his many awards and accolades, Andrews has been named “Mr. Sports Medicine” by the American Orthopaedic Society of Sports Medicine and inducted into both the Louisiana and Alabama Sports Halls of Fame. And in recognition of his leadership in advocating for intercollegiate athletics over the course of his career, in 2014 Andrews was named recipient of the NCAA President’s Gerald R. Ford Award.

Students from the College of Human Sciences were also in attendance to serve as ambassadors, as part of the IQLA Study Tour. The program is an educational opportunity for students to explore New York City, preceded by special assignments on campus that prepare them to experience the city in ways that will prove invaluable to their professional development.

“This tour has motivated me to work even harder after seeing how successful other human sciences alumni are in New York City,” said junior Emma Rich, an apparel merchandising major. “This tour shows us the real-world connections between what we’re studying and how we will improve quality of life.”

Auburn Provost Bill Hardgrave congratulated the college for its commitment to continuing the IQLA tradition.

“I certainly want to recognize the College of Human Sciences for coordinating this annual event that represents the Auburn Creed and demonstrates how individuals both inside and outside of the Auburn Family are personifying our institution’s values,” said Hardgrave.

Both St. Jude and Andrews are powerful role models that embody the essence of the Auburn spirit and the ideals of Auburn men and women. These, along with all prior IQLA recipients, have achieved unrivaled professional and philanthropic success and have made critical contributions to the quality of life of those far beyond the bounds of Alabama.

For more information about the International Quality of Life Awards, visit

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Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.