Biomedical Engineering and The Whitaker Foundation: A Thirty-Year Partnership
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The Whitaker Foundation, established in 1976, will close in 2006. It will have made awards totaling $805 million, with over $710 million in biomedical engineering. Close to 1500 faculty members received research grants to help them establish academic careers in biomedical engineering, and over 400 graduate students received fellowship support. The Foundation also supported the enhancement or establishment of educational programs in biomedical engineering, especially encouraging the formation of departments. The number of biomedical engineering departments almost tripled during the past 10 years, now numbering close to 75. Leveraging of grants enabled the construction of 13 new buildings. With the field firmly established, the grant program supporting new faculty members will be the one missed the most. New opportunities, however, are emerging as interdisciplinary research is being embraced by both public and private funding sources. The life sciences will be increasingly incorporated into all areas of engineering, and it is expected that such “biofication” will pose both opportunities and challenges to biomedical engineering.
KeywordsBME, history, future, education, funding, departments, programs
My special thanks go to the hundreds of biomedical engineering colleagues and friends who have provided professional leadership to our field. Many of them also served as consultants to the Whitaker Foundation; I apologize that space limitation prevents listing them. Within the Foundation, thanks are due to members of the Governing Committee for their support and dedication, especially to the two chairs with whom I was privileged to work: Drs. Burtt and Ruth Holmes. I would also like to express my appreciation to my current and former colleagues at the Foundation, especially to Frank Blanchard, James Frost, Miles Gibbons, Carina Hreib, John Linehan, and Wolf von Maltzahn. This paper would not exist without their ideas and collaboration in shaping the Foundation's programs.
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