Thanks to a generous $10 million gift from alumni Stewart and Judy Colton, the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania will continue to be on the leading edge of autoimmune research and care with the launch of the Colton Center for Autoimmunity at Penn. The new center unites research and patient care programs across Penn—including Penn’s Institute for Immunology, the world’s largest single-institution immunology community—to drive advances in autoimmune diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment.
“Penn has a historic tradition of innovation and discovery, which carries on to this day—from harnessing the power of the immune system to fight deadly diseases to mRNA research that led to the COVID-19 vaccines that have saved so many lives,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. “Now, we add the Colton Center for Autoimmunity to that list.”
Autoimmune diseases, where the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells, impact more than 23.5 million Americans. These diseases—such as celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis—are more common in women than in men, and are a leading cause of death and disability.
“The Colton Center for Autoimmunity at Penn is built on the strength of Penn’s collaborative environment, where our scientific enterprise is woven into the fabric of our health system and medical school’s identity and mission,” said J. Larry Jameson, executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System and dean of the Perelman School of Medicine. “We are proud to be home to this new center and are confident it will drive a rapid and significant impact on patients and families facing autoimmune disease.”
As the third center of its kind, the Colton Center at Penn aims to accelerate autoimmune research and advances. The new center adds to an existing network of leaders in the field at New York University and Yale University, bolstering collaborative efforts among these leading institutions.
E. John Wherry, director of the Penn Institute for Immunology and chair of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics in the Perelman School of Medicine, will serve as director of the new center. Under Wherry’s leadership, and in collaboration with a leadership council of Penn autoimmunity experts and advisory boards, the center will focus on driving four pillars: catalyzing development of therapies, cultivating rising stars, investing in people and big data tools, and collaborating across existing centers.
For more information on the new center, visit Penn Medicine News.