Breaking ground on ground-breaking institute

This entry is part 20 of 28 in the series Fall - 2017
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by Mary Guiden and Coleman Cornelius

After years of planning and record fundraising, CSU leaders and philanthropists John and Leslie Malone gathered at a June 2 groundbreaking event for the C. Wayne McIlwraith Translational Medicine Institute.

The institute, located north of the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital on Drake Road, promises medical innovations by harnessing the body’s healing powers to help animals and people suffering from a wide range of diseases.

“This building will be a central focus of scientific advancement as well as research,” said Dr. David Frisbie, the institute’s interim operations director and a CSU professor of equine surgery. “The teaching and technology resources will be a beacon to great minds so that they can come together in developing healing technologies for not only people but animals as well.”

The $65 million facility is named for an illustrious veterinarian who has built a remarkable clinical and research enterprise in orthopaedic medicine for horses during nearly 40 years at CSU.

Drs. Wayne McIlwraith and Nancy Goodman toss a good-luck horseshoe into a foundational pillar hole at the groundbreaking of the TMI building.
Colorado State University Distinguished Professor Dr. Wayne McIlwraith tosses a horseshoe into a foundational pillar hole at the groundbreaking of the C. Wayne McIlwraith Translational Medicine Institute. His wife, Dr. Nancy Goodman, looks on, June 2, 2017.

McIlwraith, a University Distinguished Professor and founding director of CSU’s Orthopaedic Research Center, is an international pioneer in equine arthroscopic surgery. He has also pushed the boundaries of research into biological therapies based on living cells and their products, including novel protein and stem-cell therapies that help heal injured and degraded joints. Many of McIlwraith’s findings regarding the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of equine joint injury and disease have been translated into orthopaedic advancements for people – the succession known as “translational medicine.”


CSU President Tony Frank said the use of the word “translational” is an appropriate and important description of what will take place in the building. “We’ll be moving things from the bench or laboratory into the hospital, from theory to practice, and patients from disease into health,” he said.

The word “transformational” also came up quite a bit in conversations with the lead donors, John and Leslie Malone, according to Frank.

“The idea of changing something completely is a daunting one, but not new to the people who put this building together,” he explained. With this new institute, CSU will completely change “the way we go after disease problems, and the way we put teams together, looking across biology and into engineering.”

The Malones provided the transformational lead gift of $42.5 million to establish the research institute, prompted by their interest in the regenerative power of stem-cell therapies for horses and humans. They raise world-class dressage horses and Thoroughbred racehorses and became intrigued by the concept after their animals were successfully treated with orthopaedic procedures developed by McIlwraith and his CSU colleagues.

Adding to the Malones’ gift, Princess Abigail K. Kawananakoa of Hawaii, a direct descendant of the Hawaiian royal family and celebrated breeder of racing American Quarter Horses, donated the institute’s naming gift of $20 million.

McIlwraith has contributed to the success of Princess Abigail’s stable by supporting the orthopaedic health of her racehorses, inspiring her to ask that the new facility be named for her longtime friend and colleague.

University officials estimate that the C. Wayne McIlwraith Translational Medicine Institute will open its doors in late fall 2018.

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