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Boeing Classic has raised millions in support of autoimmune disease research

August 28, 2017

By Allyson Ahern, Special to

Proceeds from the 13th annual Boeing Classic, held Aug. 21-27 at The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge in the foothills of the Cascade Mountain Range, will once again benefit Seattle-based Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason. In a partnership that developed years ago, funds from the tournament continue to contribute to innovative work at BRI - one of the world’s leading autoimmune disease research institutions.

When the event first started, the organizations involved saw it for more than just the prestige of hosting a professional golf tournament. Virginia Mason and the PGA TOUR, along with title sponsor Boeing, envisioned the potential impact that an annual professional golf tournament could have on the Northwest. The ground-breaking progress being made at the BRI, helped immensely through proceeds from this event, is exactly what the three organizations had in mind.

A nonprofit medical research institute located in the Emerald City’s First Hill neighborhood, BRI focuses on eliminating and preventing the more than 80 autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. The organization strives to turn discoveries from the lab into real-life results and funds from the Boeing Classic, nearly $3 million over the past seven years, in large part helps them pursue their mission. Recently, BRI has made significant progress toward identifying the specific harmful cells in the immune system that cause autoimmune diseases.

“We’ve developed a technology to identify those cells within the last year. Using donations, we’ve been able to go further and study the very genetic content of individual cells that we know are causing autoimmune disease,” said Jane Buckner, MD, President of BRI. “It’s exciting and I think this is the next step toward discovering treatments.”

BRI is also committed to developing individuals to be the scientists of the future. Proceeds from the Boeing Classic also contribute to internship programs for undergraduates and mentoring programs for graduate students in the Seattle area. Individuals receive hands-on training and guidance from BRI faculty with the intention of encouraging the next generation to pursue a career in the field. 

“We also use this money to support our junior investigators so they can become the next leaders in science,” said Dr. Buckner. “I think this is vital to what we do.”

While the 78 PGA TOUR Champions professionals compete on the course this weekend, the faculty at BRI will be working tirelessly in their labs.

The support from Boeing Classic continues to make a difference in cutting-edge research as well as in the lives of the 23 million Americans living with an autoimmune disease.

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