An Indiana couple is making a $45 million donation to the University of Maryland School of Medicine, which will use the money to establish a research center to study autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.
Ken Cafferty, identified as a Carmel businessman who works in mining in Indiana, and his wife, Shelia, made the donation Thursday morning. They said Shelia Cafferty, a nurse, suffered for years with severe symptoms until Dr. Alessio Fasano, a celiac disease researcher, diagnosed her with gluten sensitivity.
Fasano will direct the new center, which will study celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and Type 1 diabetes.
The center will initially include 13 faculty members, and will employ as many as 200 when it is up and running.
The gift is the largest private donation in the history of the University System of Maryland.
Forty million dollars of the donation is coming from a private foundation in which the Caffertys are key stakeholders, the university said. The remaining $5 million comes directly from the Caffertys and will fund an endowed distinguished professorship that supports a director position in perpetuity.
Fasano's studies have found that about one in 133 Americans suffers from celiac disease, and that the condition often begins later in life.