Colorado State nabs record $42.5M gift for translational research institute

Courtesy of Colorado State University

It was a very merry holiday season at Colorado State University, which received a $42.5 million gift from philanthropists John and Leslie Malone to build the Institute for Biologic Translational Therapies--a research facility where veterinarians and physicians will work together to develop stem cell therapies and other regenerative technologies.

The donation is the largest cash gift in CSU's history, according to a press release issued by the university. The Malones' gift was inspired in part by their own dressage horses, which have benefited from stem cell treatments they received to relieve stressed joints. The couple wanted to provide a way for veterinarians to translate such advancements into therapies for people.

"We think this whole area of research is very exciting in what it portends for humans and animals," John Malone said in the release. "When you say, 'Who's in the best position to do something about this?'--to take cutting-edge research and apply it pragmatically to the problems we see that people and horses are encountering on a day-to-day basis--it became pretty logical. CSU was the right place to go."

John Malone, chairman of Liberty Global Media, is a giant in the cable television industry, where he has amassed a fortune of $7.4 billion, according to Forbes. He is also the nation's largest private landowner, owning 2.2 million acres in 7 states, including Colorado, where he and his wife maintain a large horse farm.

The gift will be used to construct a new building on campus containing laboratories, advanced surgical suites and conference facilities, according to the university. It follows close on the heels of another gift from the Malones--a $6 million donation in 2013 that has been used largely to fund research in gene therapy, stem cells and specialized tissue replacement for equine athletes. The veterinarians working on these therapies believe they might also prove useful in treating people with arthritis and orthopedic injuries.

"We've really gone through a transformation in recent years, with more participation in human medicine," said CSU veterinarian Wayne McIlwraith, leader of the Orthopaedic Research Center, in the release. "This has occurred because of the comparability of equine joints and equine joint problems with human joint problems, extending into tendon and ligament injuries, which are big concerns in both humans and horses. This new institute takes us to another level with all of this work."

- here's the press release
- read more at the Coloradoan