The gift will establish an endowed fund dedicated to personalized medicine initiatives focused on changing the way disease is diagnosed and treated, and will also support the university's Genome Engineering and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Center, enabling investigators at the center to take advantage of a powerful DNA editing tool known as CRISPR/Cas9. In recognition of the gift, a recently built research facility will be named the Debra and George W. Couch III Biomedical Research Building.
"Our Washington University Genome Engineering Center is focused on developing and optimizing gene editing techniques that will enable pioneering work in precision medicine," said David H. Perlmutter, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. "The gift will serve as a catalyst for developing biological systems that model diseases in a highly personalized way and for facilitating the development of new diagnostics and therapeutics from biologically validated data — our best hope for discovering precise ways to alleviate human suffering."
"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," said George Couch, who recently concluded an eleven-year term on the university's board. "As my wife, Debra, and I began to think about our own legacy, we knew we wanted to help advance their work."