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Veterinary Medicine

Malone Foundation gives $6 million to Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Program

October 8, 2013
By Coleman Cornelius

The Malone Family Foundation, led by media magnate and philanthropist John C. Malone, has donated $6 million to Colorado State University's Orthopaedic Research Center to significantly advance the world-renowned center's scientific discovery and clinical expertise in equine sports medicine and rehabilitation.

Drs. Chris Kawcak, left, and Wayne McIlwraith oversee the treadmill work of a horse rehabilitating from orthopaedic care. McIlwraith is founding director of the CSU Orthopaedic Research Center, which has received a $6 million gift, and Kawcak leads the CSU Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Service.Transformational gift

The transformational gift will establish the Leslie A. Malone Presidential Chair in Equine Sports Medicine and will expand the Orthopaedic Research Center’s pioneering Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Program by supporting an additional faculty member and resident. The faculty member to hold the chair has not yet been named.

“We are grateful for the Malone Family Foundation’s substantial gift, and for the foresight of John and Leslie Malone, who understand the importance of supporting leading-edge teaching, research, and clinical service in equine sports medicine and rehabilitation,” CSU President Tony Frank said. “This gift will help Colorado State to advance a new veterinary specialty that is critical to the health of equine athletes and the horse industry.”  

The donation represents an exciting marriage of interests: Leslie Malone, who runs Harmony Sporthorses in Kiowa, Colo., among other international horse operations, has been committed for nearly two decades to boosting the prestige of dressage in the United States through focused horse breeding and training programs. She has worked with multiple Olympians – both horses and riders – and raises Hanoverian, Oldenburg, and Dutch Warmblood sporthorses.

Unique program

Dr. David Frisbie has helped CSU to establish notable expertise in Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation; the new gift will support work in this new veterinary specialty at the Orthopaedic Research Center.Aligned with Malone’s interest, the CSU Orthopaedic Research Center is renowned for solving problems in equine musculoskeletal disease and injury, with development of new diagnostic imaging and surgical techniques, as well as cutting-edge gene and stem cell therapies. The center’s faculty members, led by Dr. Wayne McIlwraith, have worked with competitive race horses, cutting and reining horses, jumpers, and dressage horses.

As an outgrowth of its focus areas, the Orthopaedic Research Center in 2010 established the first and, so far, only residency program in Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation in the United States.

The center not only trains future specialists, but is home to four Charter Diplomates and a fifth Diplomate by examination in the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation – representing unparalleled expertise in the newly recognized specialty. The American Veterinary Medical Association accredited the ACVSMR in 2009 to certify specialists in the field.

Advancing work

The Malone Family Foundation gift, in supporting CSU expertise, will help establish the veterinary specialty by advancing work that keeps equine athletes at the top of their games, with emphasis on the structural, physiological, medical, and surgical needs of performance horses.

“Our work with talented equine athletes has shown us how crucial it is to understand the complete picture of sporthorse health, and to provide all the care they need when these animals are competing at the highest levels,” said Leslie Malone, namesake of CSU’s Presidential Chair in Equine Sports Medicine. “I hope this gift to CSU will elevate a veterinary specialty that is central to the competitive abilities of equine athletes.”

Gold standard

McIlwraith, founding director of the Orthopaedic Research Center and a decorated equine surgeon and orthopaedic researcher, said the Malone gift will help CSU set a gold standard for teaching, research, and clinical service in equine sports medicine and rehabilitation, a specialty that is sure to grow as owners continually raise their expectations for sporthorse care.

“We truly appreciate the Malone’s gift because our raison d'être is making things better for the horse,” said McIlwraith, a University Distinguished Professor. “Within our center, we have people with expertise in different areas, but it all comes back to improving life for the equine athlete. That’s what equine sports medicine and rehabilitation is all about, and we’ve got a terrific mix of talent here to advance a specialty that’s vital to the future of sporthorse care.”