Don Brown, MD, donates $30 million for IU School of Medicine immunotherapy center

December 15, 2016

Don Brown flanked by IU President Michael McRobbie and Dean Jay Hess.Photo By

One of the largest gifts ever to Indiana University School of Medicine will enable researchers to harness the power of the immune system to cure cancer and other devastating diseases -- propelling Indiana’s standing as an engine for biomedical discovery and innovation.

Indianapolis entrepreneur Donald E. Brown, MD, announced a $30 million gift to establish the Brown Center for Immunotherapy at the IU School of Medicine. The center will discover new ways to deploy immune-based therapies to treat cancers and pioneer use of this powerful technology in other diseases. Researchers will also study how to make this highly specialized therapy accessible to large numbers of patients.

"Immunology is the right place for a big investment. It is clear to me that this is the most exciting area in all of science," said Dr. Brown, a 1985 graduate of IU School of Medicine who has founded three successful software companies. "It has tremendous potential for long-sought breakthroughs in cancer, but also autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and a whole range of conditions. We have tremendous resources and talent in Indiana. Hopefully my contribution can push us over the top to do some really exciting things."

The gift is the IU School of Medicine’s largest ever from an alumnus. The infusion of resources will enable IU School of Medicine Dean Jay Hess, MD, PhD, MHSA, Executive Associate Dean for Research Affairs Anantha Shekhar, MD, PhD, and other school leaders to move aggressively to build the center and recruit top-flight experts in immunotherapy to Indiana.

"Immunotherapy represents one of the most promising advances in my career, if not in the entire history of medicine," said Dr. Hess, vice president for university clinical affairs and Walter J. Daly Professor. "The impact of this gift on patients will be extraordinary. The center will focus on developing innovative therapies to cure at least one type of cancer and slow the progression of at least one other chronic disease. We are tremendously grateful to Dr. Brown for partnering with the IU School of Medicine to make this vision a reality."

The gift will also provide a powerful boost to the state's economy. Dr. Brown’s charge to the IU School of Medicine is "to use the work of the center to catalyze the formation of new companies and the creation of new jobs in the field of immune-based biotechnology."

To accomplish these goals, the Brown Center for Immunotherapy will collaborate with the private sector throughout Central Indiana, including leaders in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and other relevant fields.

For more information on the new center, including video links and details about cell-based immunotherapy, visit the IU School of Medicine Newsroom.