The Whitaker Foundation, which supports research and education in biomedical engineering, has awarded the University of Rochester’s Department of Biomedical Engineering a grant of $3 million toward the construction of a new biomedical engineering/optics building on the River Campus. This is the second $3 million grant to the department from the foundation. In 2001, the department won a Whitaker award to enhance student laboratories, hire new faculty, and provide general support for departmental activities.
“Our goal is to be recognized as one of the best biomedical engineering programs in the country, and this clearly will move us in that direction,” said Richard Waugh, department chairman. “With Rochester’s distinctive attributes in hands-on research for its students, a strong engineering school, and a well-known medical program, we’ve already had a good head start.”
The new award was given specifically to aid in the construction of a new, 91,000-square-foot building, connected directly to the current Wilmot Building, which houses the Institute of Optics. The two disciplines will overlap in some ventures, giving the University an edge in the burgeoning biomedical optics field. Ultra-accurate laser vision correction, retinal disease diagnosis, and the use of lasers in clinical analysis are some of the research projects that will be developed in the new space.
“Biomedical engineering is emerging as the ‘hot’ engineering field of this century,” said Kevin Parker, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “It’s a natural fit with our older engineering departments and with the interests of medical school researchers and clinicians.”
The Whitaker Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to improving human health through the support of biomedical engineering. The foundation was established in 1975 upon the death of U. A. Whitaker, founder and chief executive officer of AMP Incorporated, the world’s largest manufacturer of electrical connectors and connecting devices. An inventor, engineer, and philanthropist, Whitaker encouraged and supported collaborative medical research involving engineers, scientists, and physicians.
Since its inception, the foundation’s biomedical engineering research programs have awarded more than $575 million to colleges and universities for faculty research, graduate fellowships, and program development.