Sean Parker’s $10m allergy research fund not be be sneezed at

17 Nov 2015

Napster founder and current tech investor Sean Parker has set aside $10m for the University of California, San Francisco to push through further research in autoimmune diseases, possibly because he suffers from one.

Having once found himself as the president of Facebook,  as well as creating one of the largest file-sharing sites on the web for a period of time, Sean Parker has become increasingly interested in making investments, both in companies and in scientific research.

His most recent investment, according to Buzzfeed, will see the $10m donation go towards the creation of an autoimmune research lab, which has been called the Sean N Parker Autoimmune Research Laboratory in his honour.

Once completed, the lab will research diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and type-1 diabetes, with some of the research likely to at some point help the man himself.

Parker, who is worth an estimated $2.5bn, suffers from a number of autoimmune issues, such as Hashimoto’s disease, which leads to a person’s immune system attacking the thyroid gland, as well as suffering from a number of allergies.

A most charitable year

Immunologist Jeffrey Bluestone will lead the research at the lab, noting a particular focus on type-1 diabetes, where he has already made progress with experimental drugs aimed at stopping the advance of the disease.

In an interview with Buzzfeed, Parker said of the new centre: “There’s an enormous amount of work that’s been done to understand immune mechanisms at a very basic, cellular level over the last two decades, and because of that, we can now start thinking about ‘How can that basic science knowledge lead to translation into therapies that treat a huge range of diseases?’”

He continued: “A huge amount of costs in the health care system goes toward treating these diseases that have, at their root, an immunological component that needs to be addressed.”

In the last year, the tech billionaire has set aside nearly $700m for the establishment of a charitable foundation, efforts to eliminate malaria and cancer treatment, as well as further resources for asthma and allergy research.

Sean Parker image via JD Lasica/Flickr

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic