President Bruce Benson's newsletter

A message from President Bruce Benson

June 2017

Building 500 at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus is the most visible reminder of the campus’s previous incarnation as the Fitzsimons Army Medical Garrison. The U.S. Army opened the site nearly a century ago to treat veterans of World War I, while Building 500 opened just days before the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

This summer, CU Anschutz’s past will connect with its future when we open the Marcus Institute for Brain Health, a unique center to treat military veterans who suffer from traumatic brain injuries and related psychological health conditions.

The institute, which will anchor a national network using innovative and intensive treatment for military veterans, is possible because of the generosity of retired Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus and his foundation, which provided $38 million for the project.


Bernard Marcus

I had the chance to visit privately with Mr. Marcus before our announcement in May and was struck by his passion and focus. He firmly believes that those who served our country and were injured deserve the best of the best in care, and that’s precisely what we intend to deliver. For a campus with a long and proud tradition of serving veterans, we’re honored and humbled by the opportunity, and for Marcus’ vision and confidence in us to realize it.

The institute’s executive director will be Dr. James Kelly, a neurologist and leader in customized diagnostic and treatment plans for veterans. He had considerable success treating veterans while leading the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

The Marcus Institute will be complemented by another innovative effort housed at CU Anschutz, the Cohen Veterans Network. In a $9.8 million partnership with philanthropist Stephen Cohen, the campus will establish a mental health clinic to serve veterans and military families in greater Denver with free or low-cost care. The network is creating 25 clinics across the U.S. over five years.

With the planned 2018 opening of the VA Hospital adjacent to the campus, the CU Anschutz Medical Campus will be a magnet for the treatment of veterans and research into related health issues. These efforts not only build on a century of treatment for veterans, but also are critical to our intensive focus on mental health issues.

The Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center at CU Anschutz has made great progress in its mission to treat those with depression, bipolar disorder and co-occurring anxiety disorders. It is also a leader in research. Created through the vision and generosity of George Wiegers, it opened in 2008 and has been making its mark ever since.

The National Behavioral Health Innovation Center, founded with a gift from the Anschutz Foundation, is a “virtual center” to serve Coloradans and those across the nation by identifying and implementing behavioral health solutions, making connections to national experts and building connections among community leaders across the state.

One of the first efforts on the campus to address mental health was the Center for Dependency, Addiction and Recovery (CeDAR), also funded by the Anschutz Foundation, which specializes in treatment of individuals who are diagnosed with both psychiatric and substance abuse problems.

And in the recently concluded Colorado legislative session, lawmakers appropriated $1 million to CU Anschutz to establish a national center for substance abuse treatment, research and education, which will have a particular emphasis on opioid addiction.

The collective impact of these efforts will be vast. Our society is seeing more mental health issues, more addiction, and more veterans with traumatic brain injuries and related psychological conditions. CU Anschutz will be a national hub for treatment, research and education across the wide spectrum of mental health issues. Our three other campuses also have initiatives and partnerships that will complement efforts.

We are committed to addressing the challenges of mental health. And we are fortunate to have visionaries and partners such as Bernard Marcus, Stephen Cohen, George Wiegers, the Colorado Legislature, the Anschutz Foundation and the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation. Together, we will make a difference.

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Bruce D. Benson
Bruce Benson

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