Tech mogul Sean Parker donates $250 million to immunotherapy cancer research

NEW YORK, April 13 (UPI) — Tech billionaire Sean Parker announced a donation of $250 million to support cancer-fighting immunotherapy research.

Parker, 36, a co-founder of the music file-sharing service Napster and social media networking site Facebook’s first president, will make the donation through his Parker Foundation. The funding, announced Wednesday, will go to six prominent academic cancer research centers: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York; Stanford Medicine in Stanford, Calif.; University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, San Francisco, through the newly-created Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy; University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

The funding will be dedicated to immunotherapy, which enhances the body’s immune system, helping it kill cancer cells. The treatment is best known for the {link:helping “” target=”_blank”} former President Jimmy Carter, 91, in his fight against cancer. Carter announced in December 2015 he is cancer-free.

Immunologist Jeffrey Bluestone, who heads the San Francisco institute, said the donation will underwrite “high-risk ideas that may not get funded by the government.”

Immune therapy is regarded “as a treatment of last resort,” Parker said, indicating it is employed only after chemotherapy and radiation reduce the capability of a cancer patient’s immune system. In Silicon Valley parlance, it is a “moonshot,” an ambitious and ground-breaking project undertaken without any expectation of near-term profitability or benefit. Three months ago President Barack Obama used the term to call for a $1 billion federal cancer-research program.

The Parker Foundation was launched in 2015 with a $600 million gift from Parker, the largest private donation ever for cancer immunotherapy. The estate of shipping mogul Daniel Ludwig donated $540 million to six cancer centers in 2014, and Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike, pledged $500 million to Oregon Health and Science University cancer researchers in 2013.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.