Couch family gift names new building, supports genome engineering center
From the WashU Newsroom…
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has received a $10 million commitment from longtime benefactors George and Debra Couch to support research that advances personalized medicine. In recognition of their generosity, the recently built research building at 4515 McKinley Ave. has been named the Debra and George W. Couch III Biomedical Research Building. The couple was honored Oct. 6 during a formal dedication ceremony at the newly named building.
The gift establishes an endowed fund dedicated to personalized medicine initiatives aimed at changing the way disease is diagnosed and treated. Since personalized therapies often are rooted in a person’s genetic makeup, the new fund provides support for the university’s Genome Engineering and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Center. The center is a valuable resource for School of Medicine researchers. With its expertise in the latest genome editing technologies, such as CRISPR, and reprogramming of stem cells, scientists across the university are able to create precise cellular models of disease.
“We are deeply grateful to Debra and George Couch for their extraordinary generosity and for their commitment to improving human health,” said Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton. “Their gift will support cutting-edge research by our talented faculty in pursuit of personalized medical solutions for patients. With this generous support, the Genome Engineering Center will be even better positioned as a resource for our investigators, who are working at the forefront of the biomedical sciences.”
George Couch, a long-serving member of the School of Medicine National Council, noted, “It has been a privilege to be associated with the national council and be exposed to renowned faculty members who are making such a difference in the health of people around the world. As my wife, Debra, and I began to think about our own legacy, we knew we wanted to help advance their work.” Couch recently concluded an 11-year term on Washington University’s Board of Trustees.
The Genome Engineering Center was established by Jeffrey D. Milbrandt, MD, PhD, the James S. McDonnell Professor of Genetics and head of the McDonnell Department of Genetics. Milbrandt is a leading geneticist with a focus on advancing the tools and techniques of gene editing to develop new therapies for patients.