Pittsburgh sports community donates $800,000 to vaccine research


Pitt Athletic Director Heather Lyke. (TPN File photo)

By Stephen Thompson, Sports Editor

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Pitt athletics announced Wednesday morning that four of the department’s leaders — athletic director Heather Lyke, head football coach Pat Narduzzi, head women’s basketball coach Lance White and head men’s basketball coach Jeff Capel — would donate a combined $500,000 to support Pitt’s Center for Vaccine Research in their pursuit of a vaccine that protects against the coronavirus.

Pittsburgh’s professional sports teams — the Penguins, Pirates and Steelers — will add $100,000 each, for a total donation of $800,000, according to a press release from Pitt athletics.

Lyke said in the press release that nothing great in life is ever achieved alone.

“Pitt Athletics is honored to join forces with the Penguins, Pirates and Steelers in support of the Center for Vaccine Research and its extraordinary researchers,” Lyke said. “April marked the 65th anniversary of Dr. Jonas Salk’s victory over polio and it is apparent that funding for vaccine research remains as crucial as ever.”

CVR Director Dr. Paul Duprex said he was grateful for the donation, and recalled the legacy of Jonas Salk, the creator of the polio vaccine and renowned Pitt physician. 

“We are stunned by the generosity and support the Pittsburgh community has shown for our center over the past few months, most recently from Pitt Athletics and our local sports teams—the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins,” Duprex said. “That’s the legacy of Jonas Salk in this town. Pittsburgh understands the importance of vaccines, and we’re so grateful to be located here, where we can do our work to combat COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, knowing the community is behind us.”

While the fate of their 2020 and 2021 seasons remain foggy, the city of Pittsburgh’s sports leaders came together to support what Lyke called the city’s “scientific champions.”