A few weeks ago, Dolly Parton announced that she was donating a million dollars towards COVID-19 research at the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center. That’s no surprise for one of America’s most charitable celebrities, who’s made a habit out of quietly giving away millions of dollars over her long career. But maybe slightly more surprising is that Parton’s donation actually ended up going towards COVID-19 treatments out there. It’s still too early to say for sure, but it looks like Dolly Parton just might have saved us all.
I am making a donation of $1 million to Vanderbilt towards that research and to encourage people that can afford it to make donations.
— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) April 1, 2020
The treatment is being developed by Dr. Robert Carnahan and involves finding and cloning our bodies’ most effective antibodies against the novel coronavirus — basically creating reinforcements for your body’s own natural defenses. It’s just one of several different COVID-19 countermeasures being developed all over the world, but it was highlighted by Food & Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb as one of the more promising developments. Obviously, there’s a lot of study yet to be done — Vanderbilt estimates trials will take place over the summer, meaning the team may have some actual data to work with by the fall. The Daily Beast has a great breakdown of the science behind Vanderbilt’s research.
Parton’s involvement started with a car crash. In 2013, she got in a collision in Nashville, Tennessee and was taken to Vanderbilt for treatment, where she became friends with her surgeon Naji Abumrad. Abumrad’s son, Jad, works for NPR and ended up leveraging his father’s friendship into an excellent podcast about Parton’s life called Dolly Parton’s America. RELEVANT spoke with Abumrad about the podcast and Parton’s deep relationship with faith back in January. You can listen to our conversation here.