Public Release: 

Whitaker makes largest individual grants ever totaling more than $30 million

Whitaker Foundation

ROSSLYN, Va. - The Whitaker Foundation has made its first two Leadership Awards totaling more than $30 million to The Johns Hopkins University and the University of California, San Diego - the largest individual grants in its 23-year history.

"These intensely competitive awards are a tribute to the excellence of biomedical engineering educational and research programs at both of these outstanding academic institutions," said G. Burtt Holmes, Chairman of the Foundation Governing Committee.

"All the Leadership Award applications underwent a rigorous selection process," he said. "These awards confirm that biomedical engineering education and research programs at Hopkins and UCSD are of the highest quality and will continue to have a major impact on cost-effective health care," he said.

Using its $17-million Leadership Award and matching funds, Johns Hopkins will establish the Institute of Biomedical Engineering and build a new 42,500-net-square-foot building nearing the engineering school at the Homewood campus in Baltimore. A dozen new faculty members will be hired, providing extraordinary new opportunities in education and in three targeted research areas. The building will give biomedical engineering, now located across town at the medical school, a new presence at the college of engineering and stimulate increased interaction with faculty in other engineering departments.

UCSD will use its $13.8-million grant and matching funds for a new 47,000-net-square-foot Bioengineering Building at the Jacobs School of Engineering and the creation of the Technology Transfer and Clinical Development Center. The center will take advantage of the bustling high-technology corridor surrounding the university to speed the commercialization of biomedical engineering advances originating in UCSD laboratories. Six new faculty members will be hired to lead new educational and research programs. UCSD has the opportunity to seek additional funding from the foundation if it decides to construct an even larger building to accommodate the anticipated growth of its biomedical engineering program.

Leadership Awards, first announced in May 1996, take advantage of extraordinary opportunities for developing or enhancing the biomedical engineering infrastructure at major research universities and medical schools in the United States. There is no set limit on the award amounts, but applicant institutions must commit matching funds.

Both Hopkins and UCSD previously received $5-million Development Awards from the foundation to enhance their biomedical engineering programs. The Leadership Awards will fund the continued growth of those programs at both institutions.

Biomedical engineering is a relatively new discipline that grew out of informal collaborations between engineers, physicians and life scientists. Over the past 20 to 30 years, more than 80 academic biomedical engineering departments and programs have been created in the United States. It is the fastest growing engineering discipline at most universities. The field has made major contributions to cost-effective medical care with such advances as total hip-joint replacements, heart pacemakers and defibrillators, the heart-lung machine, diagnostic imaging, and engineered human skin for transplant.

The Whitaker Foundation, created in 1975, has based its grant programs on the belief that engineering can help solve medical problems and improve the quality of life. The foundation, with assets of approximately $400 million, plans to terminate at the end of 2006. So far this year, it has awarded $87 million to support biomedical engineering.

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Hopkins contact:
Phil Sneiderman (410) 516-7907
prs@jhu.edu

UCSD contact:
Denine Hagen (619) 534-2920
dhagen@ucsd.edu

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