Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome Names Dr. Joaquín Espinosa as Incoming Executive Director

Dr. Tom Blumenthal, former Executive Director, will continue to mentor and advise

DENVER (Jul 11, 2017) – The Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome (Crnic Institute) at the Anschutz Medical Campus (AMC) names former Associate Director for Science Dr. Joaquín Espinosa as its incoming Executive Director.  In addition to his role at Crnic Institute, Dr. Espinosa is a Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, the co-Leader of the Molecular Oncology program at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, and the founding Director of the Functional Genomics Facility at the University of Colorado.

Dr. Tom Blumenthal, a molecular geneticist, is stepping down as the Crnic Institute’s Executive Director but will continue to consult and advise.  Dr. Blumenthal was recruited to the institute five years ago from his post as the Chair of the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology Department at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

“It was not easy to convince Tom to join us in building the first academic home for Down syndrome research in the country,” said John J. Sie, founding donor of Crnic Institute. “We knew that he was who we wanted to lead Crnic, he just didn’t know he wanted that too.”

Dr. Blumenthal was eventually persuaded and his background in both academic leadership and science enabled him to establish the Crnic Institute as the leading Down syndrome research organization nationally and globally.   He established the groundbreaking Crnic Grand Challenge grant program – a strategy he employed at his previous positions first at the AMC and then the Boulder campus of the University of Colorado to attract the best and brightest scientists.  The grant program has succeeded in attracting some of the best and brightest to Down syndrome research at the Crnic Institute, including the researcher he eventually hoped would replace him, Dr. Joaquín Espinosa.

“I was frankly surprised and delighted a couple of years ago when Joaquín agreed to become Associate Director for Science,” commented Dr. Blumenthal. “Now it just seems like a natural progression for him to take the reins.”

“Since joining the Crnic Institute and working in collaboration with the teams at the Sie Center and Global Down Syndrome Foundation I have learned so much from my colleagues and mentors including Michelle Sie Whitten and Dr. Blumenthal,” said Espinosa. “It is rare to find this perfect combination of a research institute, a clinical care operation, and a powerful non-profit agency working in close coordination toward improving the lives of people with Down syndrome. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue on the path that Dr. Blumenthal established at Crnic as its new Executive Director.”

“Tom and the people he recruits not only have brilliant minds, but brilliant hearts,” said Michelle Sie Whitten, President and CEO of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation. “Today Tom and Joaquín have built a team of 33 labs and over 100 scientists all dedicated to improving the lives of people with Down syndrome. The actual discoveries being made – including Joaquín’s work allowing us to recast Down syndrome as an immune system disorder – is truly astonishing. And we can all thank Tom for the therapies and cures that will eventually result from the great science and medical care at the Crnic  Institute.”

Dr. Espinosa obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina and did post-doctoral training at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. In 2009, he was appointed as an Early Career Scientist of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a nonprofit medical research organization that plays a powerful role in advancing biomedical research and science education in the United States.  Dr. Espinosa’s current work is an ambitious, first of its kind, discovery accelerator platform call the Crnic Institute Human Trisome ProjectTM that scientists believe will unearth treatments and even cures to conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, certain cancers, and auto-immune diseases that disproportionately affect the Down syndrome community.

Dr. Blumenthal will remain as a senior advisor contributing to Crnic Institute’s life-changing research and his lab focusing on RNA mechanisms will continue its valuable work while he semi-retires to spend more time with his family traveling and enjoying the Colorado outdoors.

About the Global Down Syndrome Foundation
The Global Down Syndrome Foundation is a public nonprofit 501(c)(3) dedicated to significantly improving the lives of people with Down syndrome through research, medical care, education and advocacy. Formally established in 2009, Global has the primary focus of supporting the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, the first academic home in the U.S. committed to research and medical care for people with the condition, and the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado, the largest multi-disciplinary team in the U.S. providing medical care for people with Down syndrome. Fundraising and government advocacy that corrects the alarming disparity of national funding for people with Down syndrome is a major short-term goal. Global organizes the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show — the single-largest annual fundraiser benefiting people with Down syndrome. Global organizes and funds many programs and conferences, including the Dare to Play Football Camp with Ed McCaffrey, Global’s Denver Broncos Cheerleaders Dare to Cheer Camp, the Global Down Syndrome Educational Series, and the Dare to Play Soccer Camp. Global is an inclusive organization without political or religious affiliation or intention.

About the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome and the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome
The Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome is the first medical and research institute with the mission to provide the best clinical care to people with Down syndrome, and to eradicate the medical and cognitive ill effects associated with the condition. Established in 2008, the Crnic Institute is a partnership between the University of Colorado School of Medicine, the University of Colorado Boulder, and Children’s Hospital Colorado. Headquartered on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, the Crnic Institute includes the Anna and John J. Sie Center for Down Syndrome at Children’s Hospital Colorado. It partners both locally and globally to provide life-changing research and medical care for individuals with Down syndrome. The Crnic Institute is made possible by the generous support of the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation, and relies on the Global Down Syndrome Foundation for fundraising, education, awareness, and government advocacy.  It is a research and medical-based organization without political or religious affiliation or intention.