Philanthropists John and Leslie Malone, fascinated by the healing power of stem cells, have committed a record $42.5 million to Colorado State University to develop regenerative medical therapies for animals and people.
It is the largest cash gift in university history, a remarkable commitment to improved human and animal health and well-being.
The donation will launch the CSU Institute for Biologic Translational Therapies to investigate next-generation remedies based on living cells and their products, including patient-derived stem cells, to treat musculoskeletal disease and other ailments. Colorado State veterinarians are expert at analyzing medical treatments for animal patients, then providing knowledge gained to boost human medical advancements; the progression is known as translational medicine and is successful because of similarities in animal and human physiology and disease.
“We are tremendously grateful to John and Leslie Malone for their generous philanthropy, foresight and dedication to scientific discovery,” Colorado State President Tony Frank said. “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 benefitting human health.”
The new institute will be unique in its focus on developing regenerative treatments from inception in the laboratory setting, through clinical trials, to commercialization of new technologies.
Malones’ horses help inspire gift
The largesse was inspired in part by stem-cell treatments the Malones’ world-class dressage horses have received to help repair stressed and injured joints, the couple said. They discussed the gift at their sweeping horse farm near Denver.
“You put so much training into them, it would be wonderful to have them enjoy their health for a longer period,” Leslie Malone said. She led through her immaculate barn a promising dressage competitor named Blixt, a gelding that suffered lameness, underwent successful arthroscopic surgery at the Colorado State Orthopaedic Research Center, received stem-cell injections, and now is back to training.
“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.”
The Malones’ gift will provide $10 million for operations and $32.5 million for construction of an institute building, to feature laboratories, specialized surgical suites, and conference space for veterinarians and physicians. The lead gift requires $32.5 million in matching donations for building construction.