Home Venture Capital Only missing one ingredient for an Aurora bioscience revolution – The Denver...

Only missing one ingredient for an Aurora bioscience revolution – The Denver Post


Barron’s Magazine had a feature last month entitled: “A bioscience revolution is coming.”  Recently The Kiplinger Letter reported that: “life sciences will be a huge source of innovation for the American economy.” The report listed three main life science hubs, San Francisco, Boston and San Diego. Further they listed the 10 places where “cutting-edge” research is being done.

Why is Aurora not on the list? Nowhere else than Aurora’s University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is there three teaching hospitals and a major research center on the same campus.

The answer is that Denver and Aurora have most of the components of a major biopharma research center with the exception of a venture capital mechanism.

In the last five years, the Anschutz Foundation and The Gates Foundation have each made philanthropic investments of over $500 million on medical research at Anschutz. As a result, Anschutz has a number of projects that are prospects for clinical trials

Recently CU Anschutz Chancellor Don Elliman reported that a new Anschutz Campus foudation and the Gates Foundation will each invest $100 million to advance their research efforts in regenerative medicine, a broad term for treatments that harness the body’s ability to fix itself. This important scientific development will be headed by Terry Fry. Fry, a pediatric oncologist was one of the first researchers to work on immune cell reprogramming therapies.

As a precursor to a venture capital fund, Don Elliman and his team have raised $50 million from inside the “Anschutz community to create the CU Healthcare Innovation Fund devoted to bringing medical technology developed in the hospitals there to commercialization. Elliman and his team have developed criteria for commercialization, as well as policies and procedures on a pathway to commercialization.

I began working as a volunteer promoter of bioscience 15 years ago when I retired as Episcopal Bishop of Colorado. Five years ago I saw the need at Anschutz to have a venture capital fund to move biopharma research from the lab into the clinic. Before the pandemic, Michael King, a lawyer from Brownstein, Hyatt Farber and Schreck, worked with me to develop Colorado Biopharma Venture Fund. The purpose of CBVF would be to attract investors currently outside any Anschutz relationship to invest in biopharma there.

My partner and I see CBVF as the missing link that would make Anschutz a leading Research Center in America. We believe that a reasonable goal for CBVF in its first phase would be $100 million.

For example, when John Malone made a gift to CSU of $42.5 million to create CSU Institute for Biologic Translational Therapies he said, “I hope their research will lead to the development of human joint regeneration.”

I understand that CSU and Orthopedics at the CU Medical School have been working together to make this happen. That certainly gives them a significant advantage in the race to achieve human join regeneration. Imagine the billions of dollars that will be saved if they are successful.

Barron’s Magazine had a feature article recently in which they reported Pfizer has $50-plus billion in cash on hand due to its covid vaccines. Pfizer has announced that it will acquire Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding for $11.6 billion in cash.

Pfizer recognizes it needs to replace its diminished pipeline and plans to invest its $50 million to do so. If invited by CBVC to become a partner at Anschutz they might be eager to buy projects there rebuilding their pipeline with far less capital than the $11.5 billion they paid for Biohven.  They might even want to build a lab nearby to work with talented scientists like Terry Fry giving Anschutz an advantage in the race to create regenerative medicine.

So, the initiation of CBVF could put Anschutz in the top biopharma Centers in America. If this is to happen time is of the essence.

Jerry Winterrowd is The Retired Episcopal Bishop of Colorado.

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