Biologic therapies research gets a boost with $42.5 million donation

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Media magnate John Malone and his wife, Leslie, have donated $42.5 million to Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences—the largest cash gift in university history—for translational research that benefits human and animal health.

The Malones with one of their horses
John and Leslie Malone have donated $42.5 million to create the Colorado State University Institute for Biologic Translational Therapies. (Courtesy of CSU)

The donation will launch the CSU Institute for Biologic Translational Therapies to investigate next-generation treatments that involve the use of gene therapy, stem cells, specialized tissue replacement, and novel proteins. These therapies have the potential to provide more effective and longer-lasting treatment for equine athletes and people with osteoarthritis, orthopedic injuries, and other ailments.

The Malones own racehorses and dressage horses. The largesse was inspired in part by stem cell treatments their dressage horses received at CSU’s Orthopaedic Research Center to help repair stressed and injured joints, the couple said in a university press release. John and Leslie had donated $6 million in 2013 to the Orthopaedic Research Center, led by surgeon Dr. Wayne McIlwraith, to support equine sports medicine and rehabilitation.

The new biologic institute will be unique for housing basic laboratory research, preclinical trials, and veterinary clinical trials—all under one roof. It also will focus on commercialization of new technologies.

The Malones’ gift will provide $10 million for operations and $32.5 million for construction of an institute building. The lead gift requires $32.5 million in matching donations for building construction. The state-of-the-art facility will include laboratories, surgical suites with advanced imaging, and meeting space for both veterinarians and physicians.

“We think this whole area of research is very exciting in what it portends for humans and animals,” John Malone said. “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 served as chief executive officer of cable and media giant Tele-Communications Inc. for 24 years and is said to be the largest individual private landowner in the U.S., according to Forbes.

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