April 03, 2020
On Friday afternoon, Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie announced he is contributing $1 million to Penn Medicine to establish the COVID-19 Immunology Defense Fund to help fund research into the best ways to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The news comes just hours after Joel Embiid and the Sixers ownership had donated $1.3 million to Penn Medicine to help fund COVID-19 testing for frontline health care workers.
According to a press release from Penn Medicine, Lurie's fund "will support both an emerging research program to test front-line health care workers for potential immunity to COVID-19, as well as provide flexibility for their researchers — who have overseen the world’s most seminal advances harnessing the power of the immune system to fight disease — to develop real-time research protocols to battle the disease."
“We are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis that is affecting all of us in so many ways,” Lurie said in a statement. “Every passing day brings new stories of heartbreaking tragedy, inspirational courage, and hopeful innovation. We can and will get through this, but only if we work together, care for each other, and focus our attention and resources towards sustainable strategies. There are so many individuals and organizations who are making daily sacrifices, and we are incredibly thankful for their dedication and bravery. We must continue to support these efforts in every way that we can, while also seeking a solution that will help us move forward.”
“We have reached a critical point in our fight against COVID-19 in which testing for antibodies is absolutely essential both to protect our front-line workers in the short term and to develop treatments and vaccines that will save lives and help defeat the virus. With that in mind, I am proud to offer my support to Penn Medicine’s research efforts by establishing the COVID-19 Immunology Defense Fund. This fund will aid Penn’s multi-disciplinary approach in immunology, merging research in diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccine development. Researchers from those three areas will work hand-in-hand and rely upon one another to create an immediate and lasting impact both locally and worldwide.”
The money donated by Lurie will allow Penn's researchers to work on developing faster coronavirus testing methods and a potential vaccine. It will also allow for serology tests to be given to health care workers and recovered COVID-19 patients in order to discover if anyone is potentially immune to the disease and gain a better understanding about how to best protect those working on the front lines.
“In a time of national crisis, this is the kind of extraordinary partnership that can open doors and discover new pathways to address the profound challenges before us,” University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann said. “I am personally grateful to an exceptional civic leader and a great friend, Jeffrey Lurie, for giving us the tools to fight back against this pandemic in a way that may not only benefit our city and country but also the world.”
“This gift will help support the more than 200 experts at Penn who have harnessed the immune system to develop groundbreaking approaches to treat cancer, autoimmune diseases, HIV/AIDS, and other infectious diseases to focus their collective expertise to fight COVID-19,” said Dr. J. Larry Jameson, executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania for the health system and dean of the Perelman School of Medicine. “We have decades of experience in understanding the immune system’s response to disease, and even how to enlist the immune system to actively fight disease in patients’ own bodies. This generous support will allow our team to rapidly expand its efforts to learn more about how to treat and prevent COVID-19.”
“When we band together, our defense gets stronger,” Lurie added. “I ask that you join me in supporting the COVID-19 Immunology Defense Fund, and help the dedicated immunologists at Penn Medicine defeat this virus.”
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