Penn Medicine announced Friday that it is establishing a COVID-19 Immunology Defense Fund with a $1 million donation from Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie.

The money will go toward an emerging research program to test endangered health care workers for potential immunity to COVID-19 as well as research toward a treatment and an eventual vaccine, according to a press release from Penn Medicine.

“We are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis that is affecting all of us in so many ways,” Lurie said in a statement. “Every passing day brings new stories of heartbreaking tragedy, inspirational courage, and hopeful innovation.”

Lurie noted the need for people to care for one another and “focus our attention and resources toward sustainable strategies.”


Penn president Amy Gutmann, in a statement, touted the COVID-19 initiative as “the kind of extraordinary partnership that can open doors and discover new pathways to address the profound challenges before us.”

Someone with knowledge of Lurie’s thinking said he looked to donate in a way that would help in both the short term -- the immunity testing -- and the longer term, the search for treatment and a vaccine.

“We have reached a critical point in our fight against COVID-19, in which testing for antibodies is absolutely essential, both to protect our front-line workers in the short term and to develop treatments and vaccines that will save lives and help defeat the virus,” Lurie said.