Two horse lovers plan to donate $42.5 million to Colorado State University to help researchers develop regenerative medical therapies for animals and people.
The gift, the largest in the university’s history, will be used to construct and equip the Institute for Biologic Translational Therapies. The research conducted inside will look at stem cells and other therapeutic options for the treatment of ailments such as musculoskeletal disease, the university reported Monday.
The gift from Denver-area philanthropists John and Leslie Malone allocates $10 million toward operating costs and $32.5 million for construction of a building that will house laboratories, surgical suites and meeting areas for veterinarians and physicians. The donation requires the university to raise $32.5 million in matching funds for the building’s construction.
“We are tremendously grateful to John and Leslie Malone for their generous philanthropy, foresight and dedication to scientific discovery,” said Colorado State President Tony Frank, DVM, Ph.D. “In addition to being the largest cash gift in the university’s history, their commitment positions us to build on our foundation as a leader in translational medicine, where advances in veterinary medicine very rapidly move into the sphere of benefiting human health.”
The institute will be unique, Colorado State reported, in its focus on developing regenerative treatments in the laboratory and expanding into clinical trials and commercialization.
“This is a very exciting and very broad area of research, and it’s going to pay big dividends in both human and animal medicine,” said John Malone, the chairman of Liberty Media Corp. “It seems entirely appropriate to assist in the development of this research at one of the top vet schools in the country.”
Malone and his wife, Leslie, own world-class dressage horses. One competitor, Blixt, suffered from lameness but is training again after undergoing stem cell therapy and arthroscopic surgery at the Colorado State Orthopaedic Research Center.
“You put so much training into them, it would be wonderful to have them enjoy their health for a longer period,” Leslie Malone said.
The Malone’s relationship with Colorado State began with the Orthopaedic Research Center and the center’s founder, University Distinguished Professor Wayne McIlwraith, BVSc, Ph.D., Dipl. ACVS. The couple donated $6 million in 2013 to endow the Leslie A. Malone Presidential Chair in Equine Sports Medicine.
Dr. McIlwraith, an equine arthroscopic surgeon, said the Orthopaedic Research Center has “gone through a transformation in recent years, with more participation in human medicine.”
“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,” he said. “This new institute takes us to another level with all of this work.”
The $42.5 million gift isn’t the only large donation to Colorado State in 2014. The Hadley and Marion Stuart Foundation in January gave $10 million to support the Flint Animal Cancer Center and endow two academic chairs.