An Innovative Bridge for Animal and Human Health

Joe Duggan, Communications

September 26, 2019

Synonymous with excellence in veterinary medicine and animal science, Colorado State University (CSU) is now leading the quest for new animal and human therapies with the Translational Medicine Institute (TMI).

Olsson provided materials testing and special inspection services essential to completing the 130,000 square-foot innovation hub and architectural centerpiece of the university’s south campus expansion.

The institute provides a commons area where scholars, researchers, clinicians, and entrepreneurs can collaborate on the promising scientific area that identifies connections between human and animal health. The TMI will also draw upon the university’s strong record of research in orthopedics, biomedical engineering, immunology, stem cells, infectious disease, and surgery.

From the institute’s inception in 2013 until its grand opening in May, we worked in partnership with Tetrad Property Group, the master developer, to manage a highly complex schedule and workflow.

“To see something like this go from an empty field to a gorgeous building where groundbreaking scientific research takes place is really impressive,” said Braden Hirsch, professional engineer who served as our project manager.

Equally impressive is the private support marshaled to build the $65 million project.

Philanthropists John and Leslie Malone provided the lead gift of $42.5 million and Princess Abigail Kawananakoa, a direct descendent of the Hawaiian royal family, gave $20 million. The benefactors are equine breeders who’ve sought the skills of C. Wayne McIlwraith, distinguished professor and founding director of the university’s Orthopaedic Research Center. The new institute is named in honor of Dr. McIlwraith, who continues to practice orthopedic surgery and research at CSU.

“I see us becoming the single credible agency for what the best therapies are for animals and humans,” the doctor said at the institute’s grand opening in May.

The university’s focus on accelerating development of promising medical therapies is what sets a project like the TMI apart, John Malone said.

“CSU seems to be a practical place, a pragmatic place, a place that likes to produce real-world results,” he remarked at the ceremony.

The TMI will help bridge the gap that exists between human and animal health research, said Brian Cole, a renowned orthopedic surgeon at Rush University Medical Center and head team physician of the Chicago Bulls. He is one of the medical experts serving on the institute’s scientific advisory board.

For our role in the project, we emphasized efficiency in our inspections, observing all the structural elements, such as drilled piers, reinforced concrete, masonry, structural steel, welds, bolts, and spray-applied fireproofing. Additionally, at the request of the general contractor, we employed sonic echo testing to evaluate the integrity of the building’s piers, ensuring that essential structural elements were free of inclusions, cracks, and breaks.

“With a project of this size – a high-profile project on a college campus – there are just a lot of details to keep track of,” Braden said. “It’s very easy to get behind on a project like this, so it took a lot of effort and communication by our team.”

Translational medicine, by definition, seeks to make new therapies available to patients as safely and quickly as possible. Leaders at the TMI like to say the institute will help therapies “make the leap from the research bench, to the barn, to the bedside.”

We’d suggest one small addition: “From beams, to bench, to barn, to bedside.”

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