The Colton Center for Autoimmunity at the Perelman School of Medicine received a $50 million donation from 1962 Wharton graduate Stewart Colton and his wife, Judy Colton.
According to Penn Today, the gift will go toward developing a hub for international scientific collaboration in fields such as immunology and vaccinology. It also strives to enhance research across data science and artificial intelligence.
Under Director E. John Wherry’s leadership, the Colton Center plans on recruiting new researchers, adding more clinical trials, and increasing its use of artificial intelligence and big data.
The Colton Center at Penn was established in the fall of 2021 with a $10 million donation from the Coltons, joining the first two centers in the Colton Consortium located at New York University and Yale University.
In the future, Penn plans on building connections with the other centers through events such as retreats, collaboration among leadership and faculty, and scientific initiative development.
Wherry told Penn Today that the Center’s launch at Penn united research and patient care programs, advancing autoimmune diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment both within the University and also around the world.
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, over 24 million Americans are impacted by autoimmune diseases, causing the body’s immune system to attack its healthy cells. These diseases — such as lupus, Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis — are a leading cause of death and disability in the United States.
Penn President Liz Magill expressed hope in the announcement that this donation will catalyze new discoveries in the study of autoimmune diseases.
“The vision for the Colton Center is bold and boundless," she said. "It will be propelled not only by Penn’s own distinguished scientists, but through collaborations with researchers at other top institutions who are, together, committed to making a difference for those coping with autoimmune diseases.”