Angel investor: Dolly Parton put up $1M to assist development of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Legendary recording artist, actress and philanthropist Dolly Parton can now add angel investor and public health advocate to her résumé, after the world realized Tuesday she helped fund an early-stage trial of Moderna’s prospective COVID-19 vaccine.

In April, less than one month after the novel coronavirus outbreaks were declared a pandemic, Parton donated $1 million to coronavirus research being conducted at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Vanderbilt University Medical Center spokesperson John Howser told BBC News that Parton’s “generous” gift was assisting “several promising research initiatives,” including a convalescent plasma study and research involving antibody therapies.

“(Parton’s) gift provided support for a pilot convalescent plasma study that one of our researchers was able to successfully complete,” Howser told the outlet.

“Funds from Dolly’s gift are also supporting very promising research into monoclonal antibodies that act as a temporary vaccine for COVID-19. Two of these antibodies are now being tested by a global pharmaceutical firm,” he added.

Meanwhile, Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate emerged recently as the second in eight days, behind Pfizer’s candidate, to exhibit an overwhelmingly positive success rate.

Parton’s name is clearly visible alongside other preliminary research sponsors such as the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Emory University. Her donation was actually made to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in honor of her friend and Vanderbilt professor of surgery Dr. Naji Abumrad, CNN reported.

“I felt like this was the time for me to open my heart and my hand and try to help,” Parton said in an April appearance on NBC’s “Today.”

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