Australian National University has announced a bequest of AU$10 million ($6.87 million), the largest in its history, in support of research on a rare autoimmune disease.
The gift from Jenny and Bruce Pryor, who both passed away in 2017, will establish the Jenny and Bruce Pryor Research Fellowship at the ANU Centre for Personalised Immunology and fund research focused on dermatomyositis, an autoimmune disease that causes chronic muscle inflammation, pain, and weakness, which Jenny Pryor suffered from in her later years.
"DM is a rare disease that affects about one in a hundred thousand people and therefore [is] not a prominent part of current large research programs," said center co-director Carola Vinuesa. "This bequest changes everything. It will enable us to build the most comprehensive discovery program for DM in Australia and possibly the world. We hope the important work this bequest funds will help us understand the causes of DM and discover much-needed therapies to improve the life of people with it, if not cure the disease entirely."
"[The Pryors] were both extremely humble and generous people," said their nephew, James Graham. "They were committed to contributing and building a community around them. They worked hard their whole lives, living modestly, to generate an amazing legacy, of which the bequest to ANU is a significant part....While the disease took its toll, Jenny always remained stoic. She never showed the significant impact it was taking. But both Jenny and Bruce wanted to make sure other people would not have to suffer like she had. They wanted to help empower researchers to find a cure for diseases like DM. Their incredible generosity and commitment means this hope is now possible."
(Photo credit: Lannon Harley)