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Historic $200 Million Commitment to the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Fuels Advancements in Treatments and Cures

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Written by Julia Milzer on May 11, 2022
What You Need To Know

CU Anschutz announced today the creation of the Gates Institute – a new institute to help scientists develop cell and gene therapeutics more effectively. The institute was made possible by a philanthropic investment from the Gates Frontiers Fund in partnership with CU Anschutz.

The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus today announced the creation of the Gates Institute, a state-of-the-art facility that will focus on rapidly translating laboratory findings into regenerative, cellular and gene therapies for patients.

Working in partnership with CU Anschutz, the Gates Institute, fueled by a philanthropic investment from the Gates Frontiers Fund, and an investment by CU Anschutz, is expected to grow to $200 million over the next five years. The institute will build on the success of the Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine and Gates Biomanufacturing Facility, which have conducted groundbreaking stem cell research for cancer and rare diseases, pioneering new therapies in recent years.

See related story on pioneer in gene therapy.

The Gates Frontiers Fund, represented by co-trustees Diane Gates Wallach and John Gates, helped create the original center and new institute. Their goal is to expand the quest of their father, Charles C. Gates, to more swiftly move scientific discoveries from the lab to the clinic.

“It takes a dynamic, innovative medical ecosystem for an institute like this to thrive and be successful,” said Diane Gates Wallach. “And that’s what makes CU Anschutz so unique. Its outstanding educational facilities and world-class researchers share a campus with two top-ranked hospitals.”

This new institute means that CU Anschutz scientists will now have a place to develop cell and gene therapeutics more effectively.

"The Gates Institute will make it possible for our faculty to achieve the vast potential of cell and gene therapies,” said John J. Reilly Jr., MD, dean of the University of Colorado School of Medicine and vice chancellor for health affairs at CU Anschutz. “With previous support, we have recruited talented faculty and staff, and we have invested in state-of-the-art equipment. With this investment, we will build on that foundation so our scientists can develop a new generation of therapies that allow our clinicians to offer hope to those facing serious disease.”

Wallach adds, “We share CU Anschutz’s vision to simultaneously fuel medical innovation while reducing the time required to get those innovations where they are needed most – to the patient. Our father believed that to move the needle, it’s important to invest in places that aren’t constrained by convention and are led and staffed by those driven to enhance the quality of life for those in our community and beyond.”

Terry Fry, MD, a world-renowned researcher in chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapies, will become the inaugural executive director. Fry will remain senior vice president, head of T-cell therapeutics at Sana Biotechnology and a clinical professor of pediatric oncology at the CU School of Medicine at CU Anschutz.

Elliman,Fry, Roop, GatesINSCU Anschutz Chancellor Donald M. Elliman Jr., Terry Fry, MD, Dennis Roop, PhD, and Diane Gates Wallach. (Photo by DeCroce Photography).

“I’m looking forward to advancing the important work started at the Gates Center as we evolve into an institute focused on regenerative, cell and gene therapies. This is an incredible opportunity to help patients facing serious health issues and will change the face of medicine as we know it,” said Fry. “This is a pivotal moment for the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, Colorado and the region. We will look back at the creation of the Gates Institute in the not-too-distant future and be able to point to therapies and cures made possible through this monumental commitment.”

Fry is advancing the next generation of CAR-T immunotherapies, reprogramming a patient's T-cells to find and kill cancer cells. His research has changed the treatment of pediatric leukemia patients, achieving an 80 percent remission rate in kids with leukemia who otherwise had been unresponsive to other treatments. He sees the Gates Institute as a way to extend the successes of cellular therapy in cancer to diseases of the skin, eyes, heart and joints to name a few.

“The Gates Frontiers Fund has long been a close partner of the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, helping create our robust innovation ecosystem,” said CU Anschutz Chancellor Donald M. Elliman, Jr. “We share a deep commitment to creating a future in which new discoveries and novel therapies make their way more quickly than ever before from research bench to patient bedside. With the establishment of the Gates Institute, we can advance the leading-edge work already underway here at unmatched speed and scope.”

The Gates Institute will leverage the innovative work that was already taking place under the successful leadership of Dennis Roop, PhD, professor of dermatology and the Gates Center director, who will be continuing his research at the institute.

Beyond research, the institute will support the manufacturing, delivery and implementation of these new therapies to patients, as well as identifying and providing the regulatory infrastructure and investment resources necessary for commercializing novel therapies for patients.

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Chancellor Donald M. Elliman

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Terry Fry, MD