New hope for research on rare autoimmune disease

10 Apr 2020

This bequest changes everything. It will enable us to build the most comprehensive discovery program for this rare disease in Australia and possibly the world.

Co-director of the ANU Centre for Personalised Immunology (CPI) calls it a 'game-changer'. She's referring to the $10 million bequest for research on dermatomyositis, a rare
autoimmune disease.

There is so much about this donation that makes it unique. It comes from Jenny and Bruce Pryor, who both passed away in 2017, and is the largest bequest ANU has ever received. And it has helped establish the Jenny and Bruce Pryor Research Fellowship at the CPI to support research on dermatomyositis, or DM, which Jenny suffered from in her later years.

DM causes chronic muscle inflammation, pain and weakness, and Professor Vinuesa feels the funding will unlock vital work that gives sufferers new hope
for a cure.

"It is a rare disease that affects about one in 100,000 people and therefore not a prominent part of current large research programs," Professor Vinuesa said.

"This bequest changes everything. It will enable us to build the most comprehensive discovery program for DM in Australia and possibly the world."

The Pryors first approached ANU with their intentions in April 2017. Their wishes have been stewarded by nephew, James Graham, and his partner Tanya.

"Bruce and Jenny loved each other dearly. Everything they did in life was for each other. So it is fitting that this major bequest and the vital work it will fund will carry their names," Mr Graham said.

"I can think of no better place than ANU to honour Bruce and Jenny's lives through world-leading research to which their legacy will make a tangible difference."

ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt feels this inspirational gift from Jenny and Bruce will empower the University to use research into this complex autoimmune disease in the most profound way.

"People who they have never met, and will never meet, will benefit from the Pryors' generosity and commitment to making a difference," Professor Schmidt said. "Great breakthroughs are founded in great research. And great research is boosted by generous donations like this."

Professor Vinuesa aptly articulates the positive impact of this bequest on DM research and treatment.

"This is not just a gift to ANU. This is a gift to the world."

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