Washington University in St. Louis has announced a $10 million gift to its School of Medicine in support of research aimed at harnessing the immune system in the battle against cancer, infectious diseases, and disorders caused by autoimmunity and immune deficiencies.
The gift from alumni Andrew M. and Jane M. Bursky will be used to advance research at the university's center for Human Immunology and Immunotherapy, which will bear the Burskys' names in recognition of the gift. The funds also will support an endowed professorship for the center’s director, Robert D. Schreiber, who has led the center since its establishment in 2014.
One initiative supported by the gift is the expansion of an ongoing effort to preserve blood and tissue from patients with different diseases that display immune system involvement. With patients’ permission, researchers will have access to blood and tissue samples before, during, and after treatment that can be used to study a patient's native immunity and how it might respond to different therapeutic strategies. Such a resource could help doctors understand the reasons a specific immune therapy is effective in some patients but not others.
"We are honored that Andrew and Jane Bursky have chosen to support human immunology research at Washington University through their generous gift," said Schreiber. "With the strength of the immunotherapy programs at the School of Medicine combined with the sequencing power of the McDonnell Genome Institute, this new gift will help jumpstart major research initiatives in understanding and developing new immune-based therapeutics for a broad array of diseases."