Arntzen Auditorium

 Give a gift to Charlie's Legacy



The ASU Biodesign Institute is a place where hundreds of scientists work together to solve some of life’s most vexing challenges and help people everywhere thrive. Having attracted more than $400 million in external funding, launching 18 new businesses, and filing approximately 100 patents and licensed technologies, the Biodesign Institute’s impact on our community and world is immense.

Paving the way for such remarkable scientific discovery was Dr. Charles (Charlie) Arntzen, Founding Director of the ASU Biodesign Institute. One of the hallmarks of Charlie’s leadership was his emphasis on collaboration by institute scientists. This core value remains prominent with more than 600 biologists, physicists, chemists, engineers, and mathematicians working together, across disciplines, and asking and answering questions such as: How can we detect diseases earlier? How do we protect and enhance our clean supply of land, air, water, and food? How can we protect our citizens from acts of aggression? It is a culture where curiosity and creativity are on overdrive.

Dr. Charles Arntzen is a Regents’ Professor and holds the Florence Ely Nelson Presidential Endowed Chair. In ASU’s Biodesign Institute and School of Life Sciences he developed novel ways to manufacture pharmaceuticals and vaccines. He is internationally recognized for his work on the development of genetic strategies for using plants to produce cost-effective vaccines or drugs to meet the needs of developing nations.

Career Accomplishments

Charlie’s own research programs exemplify how multi-team projects succeed when drawing upon expertise from small and large collaborators. During his time at ASU, Dr. Arntzen received awards from the United States Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and National Institutes of Health. One of these projects led to ZMapp, the current leading therapeutic for Ebola virus infections. A successful handoff to industrial collaborators helped save lives and led to an award by Fast Company Magazine, which recognized Charlie as the “Most Creative Person in Business,” in 2015.

Dr. Arntzen’s career achievements have been recognized in many ways; he was invited to serve on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology for George W. Bush, elected to the U.S. National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Science in India, appointed Chairman of the National Biotechnology Policy Board of the National Institutes of Health, and received a Superior Service Award from the United States Department of Agriculture. In addition to ASU, Dr. Arntzen has held leadership positions within academic institutions such as Cornell University, Michigan State University, Texas A&M University, and in industry at the DuPont Company.

The discovery that tobacco plants could be medicine-machines earned Charlie the title of the “godfather of pharming.” In other words, he was farming plants in a way that would turn them into medicines – also known as pharmaceuticals.

The Next Chapter

Charlie’s retirement in the fall of 2017 closed a chapter at the Biodesign Institute, but his pioneering spirit will live on. In recognition of Dr. Arntzen’s dedication to advancing scientific discovery and his legacy at Arizona State University, we seek to rename the Biodesign Institute Auditorium as the Arntzen Auditorium. The Auditorium is the most prominent and premier gathering space within the Institute. It is a space where knowledge is created and disseminated, where creative thinking is stirred, where collaboration is the expectation, and where brilliant minds gather to seek solutions. It is the perfect space to bear the name of the man who laid the foundation for what the auditorium symbolizes and what the Institution stands for today.

The Arnzten Auditorium will be a gathering place for inspiration, attracting science enthusiasts for generations to come.


Join us in inspiring present and future generations with access to scientific thinking of the highest caliber through a philanthropic investment in the Arntzen Auditorium Legacy Fund. To achieve our goal of establishing the Arntzen Auditorium in the ASU Biodesign Institute, we are actively seeking $550,000 in philanthropic contributions. Dr. Arntzen and his wife, Kathy, have generously committed $100,000 towards this endeavor. Contributions will be used to establish a permanent endowment that will fund an annual visiting lectureship from a world-renowned scientific leader who will spend time in thought partnership with ASU scientists, engaging with students, and sharing recent findings with the community at large. It is impossible to predict what discoveries may come from this opportunity and no better way to honor the legacy of Dr. Charles Arntzen.

With the establishment of the Arntzen Auditorium Legacy Fund ASU scientists and students will engage with world-renowned scientific leaders.