Dear Alumni and Friends,
When you consider the top medical destinations in the United States, a few names always stand out – the Mayo Clinic. Johns Hopkins. The M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Massachusetts General.
The CU Anschutz Medical Campus is making a strong case for inclusion on that list. And with the recent $120 million gift from Philip Anschutz and the Anschutz Foundation, our efforts just received a substantial shot of adrenaline. I have known Phil for some time and he has never wavered from his vision for an academic medical center in the Rockies that rivals the best in the world. His generosity accelerates that vision, allowing critical investment in top talent, innovative research, key industry partnerships, technology transfer and facilities. It is the largest single gift in the campus’s history.
We have deep roots and a solid foundation to build on. Although the CU Anschutz Medical Campus is less than 20 years old, CU’s School of Medicine dates to 1883, when it was founded on our Boulder campus. That first year it had “two rooms in Old Main, two professors, two instructors and two hastily recruited students,” according to the school’s centennial history. It soon outgrew Boulder and relocated to Denver permanently in 1925, when the CU Health Sciences Center took up residence at Ninth Avenue and Colorado Boulevard. It moved to the decommissioned Fitzsimons Army Medical Garrison base, renamed the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, in 2006 and has been going great guns ever since.
It is one of the only academic medical centers in the United States where education, research and clinical care all happen on one site. Our hospital partners that share the campus, the University of Colorado Hospital (part of the UCHealth network) and Children’s Hospital Colorado, are among the top in the country. The neighboring VA Hospital just opened as well. Add to that the adjacent Fitzsimons Innovation Community, a biosciences park emerging on the north edge of the campus (which will also feature retail, hotels, a faculty club and a K-5 and a 6-12 school), and you have a powerhouse in the making.
In many ways, it’s a powerhouse right now. I don’t have the space to list all our myriad strengths, but a sampling will give you a sense. We have one of the top pulmonary programs in the country. We are a leader in transplant science (CU School of Medicine physicians performed the first liver transplant). Our diabetes research and treatment efforts are exemplary. We are making progress in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Our ophthalmology department (housed in the Sue Anschutz-Rodgers Eye Center) is doing world-class work.
Phil and I share an interest in mental health, a huge concern in our society, and one that deserves much more attention. As part of the $300 million total investment he and his family foundation have made since 2000, he has designated funds that help us place a sharp focus on mental health. The campus is home to the new National Mental Health Innovation Center, which is on the leading edge of using technology to treat a variety of mental illnesses.
Phil’s investment also helps us leverage our efforts and the generosity of other donors. The Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center (funded by the Johnson Foundation and philanthropist George Wiegers, the “father” of the center) is making its mark as a go-to place for treatment and research in various cognitive disorders. The Marcus Institute for Brain Health is one of our newest efforts, treating veterans and those with traumatic brain injury. Our partnership with the Cohen Veterans Network provides further treatment to veterans.
Another result of Phil’s commitment will be the new 390,000-square-foot interdisciplinary Anschutz Health Sciences Building, which breaks ground later this year. It will house faculty leaders in mental and behavioral health, including the CU Department of Psychiatry, as well as the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine, the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, classrooms, exhibit space and more.
It’s remarkable how transformational Phil’s investment has been and will be. When a vision is backed by private funding, the pace of change accelerates at a tremendous rate. And given the equally dizzying changes and innovation occurring in medicine these days, we are able to not only keep up, but also lead the way in many areas. And that will put the CU Anschutz Medical Campus squarely in the conversation about the top medical destinations in the world.
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