Dolly Parton Donates $1M To Pediatric Infectious Disease Research

Dolly Parton: "I love all children. I'm willing to do my part to try and keep as many of them as I can as healthy and safe as possible."

Dolly Parton is working past "9 to 5" to make a difference.

The country legend has donated $1 million to pediatric infectious disease research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC).

"We are deeply honored by Dolly's contribution to our research mission," said Mark Denison, MD, professor of Pediatrics and director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases in a press release. "For over 40 years, our division has been a national and international leader in studies for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of life-threatening infections, and this gift will accelerate our work and support new ideas."

The pediatric infectious disease division at Vanderbilt conducts research to find how viruses and bacteria cause disease. Parton's contribution will go towards the ongoing study into how the unit can prevent and treat infections, diagnose/ treat infections in children battling cancer, and research to understand the "impact of childhood infections throughout the world."

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 13: Recording artist Dolly Parton speaks live on air in Seacrest Studio at Monroe Carell Jr. Vanderbilt Children's Hospital to share music & her own family's story of hope with kids and their parents on October 13, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Davis/Getty Images for Pandora)

"I love all children. No child should ever have to suffer," said Parton in a statement. "I'm willing to do my part to try and keep as many of them as I can as healthy and safe as possible."

The 76-year-old icon has never shied away from using her powerful platform to strive for change. In 1995, the hitmaker created her Imagination Library project. To date, the nonprofit inspired by her father has donated approximately 170 million books to kids.

Parton lent a helping hand to families impacted by the 2016 wildfires that tore through her home state of Tennessee. Nearly five years later, Parton's Dollywood Foundation raised over $700,000 for middle Tennessee after harsh weather conditions caused devastating floods.

The "Jolene" singer also provided $1 million to VUMC during the global health crisis to fund research for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Parton's gift was in honor of her good friend, Naji Abumrad, MD, professor of Surgery.

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"My longtime friend Dr. Naji Abumrad, who's been involved in research at Vanderbilt for many years, informed me that they were making some exciting advancements towards research of the coronavirus for a cure," the vocalist shared on Instagram in April of 2020. "I am making a donation of $1 million to Vanderbilt towards that research," she added while encouraging others to donate towards the initiative.

The hardworking first responders at Vanderbilt do not take Parton's kind gestures lightly.

"Dolly's previous support to infectious disease research, and also our pediatric cancer program, has already saved countless lives," said Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and CEO of VUMC and Dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. "This new gift will bolster our defenses against future threats to the safety of this region and society as a whole. It speaks volumes about her passion for people, and we couldn't be more thankful."

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