The IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis was the recent recipient of a $30 million donation by Dr. Donald Brown, a 1985 graduate of the IU School of Medicine. The money will be used by the school to help fund the Brown Center for Immunotherapy.
This donation is the largest any alumnus has given to the medical school until this point. Brown said in a press release he felt the development of a center for immunotherapy was the right choice for the School of Medicine.
“Immunology is the right place for a big investment,” Brown said in the release. “It is clear to me that this is the most exciting area in all of science.”
The center will be home to research to develop innovative strategies and plans for curing at least one type of cancer and slowing the progression of chronic diseases.
“Hopefully my contribution can push us over the top to do some really exciting things,” Brown said.
Dr. Jay Hess, the Dean of the School of Medicine and Vice President for University Clinical Affairs, said the field of immunotherapy has been evolving rapidly and he and the School of Medicine were already working on the program when Brown approached them.
“This, I must say, was out of the blue,” Hess said after receiving the donation.
Hess said $13 million of the fund will be used to for five endowed chairs for the immunotherapy center and will help fund the research of those who eventually take those chairs. The center will also place some of the money in a startup fund for research into cancer and degenerative disease treatments. Hess said the center will be working on innovative ways to combat these diseases.
“It doesn’t make sense for us to do what everyone else is doing,” Hess said. “Our goal is to make healthcare better.”
The new center and the money will also provide a boost the Indiana economy by working with the private sector to help form new companies and improve old ones, according to the press release.
“I am confident that, through his transformational gift, Don is catapulting the IU School of Medicine and state of Indiana to the leading edge of this vital area of research,” IU President Michael McRobbie said.
Brown has been an entrepreneur in Indiana since the late 1980s when he co-founded Software Artistry Inc., a customer support software company. He then left to establish Interactive Intelligence, which was later acquired for $1.4 billion by Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories Inc. on Dec. 1, 1994.
“I’ve always wanted to build teams and do really interesting things. The wealth has been a byproduct of that, and I’d like to be able to use that to do things that benefit not just me and not just my family but society as a whole,” Brown said.