Malone Foundation Gives $6 million to Colorado State University Equine Sports Medicine Program

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The Malone Family Foundation, led by media magnate and philanthropist John C. Malone, 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.

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,” said CSU President Tony Frank. “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, Colorado, 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--horses and riders--and raises Hanoverian, Oldenburg and Dutch Warmblood sport horses.

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 Wayne McIlwraith, BVSc, FRCVS, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, Dipl. ECVS, 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 the only, residency program in Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation in the United States.

The center not only trains future specialists, but it 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.

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 sport horse 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.”

McIlwraith, founding director of the Orthopaedic Research Center and a decorated equine surgeon and orthopedic 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 sport horse 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 sport horse care.”