A host of other medical and scientific products and devices have resulted from Whitaker funding, including prosthetic implants, drug delivery systems and bioengineered tissues. Whitaker investigators have also expanded the field into exciting new areas, such as cellular and molecular engineering and nanotechnology.
The Whitaker Foundation was established in 1975 upon the death of U.A. Whitaker, the founder of AMP Incorporated. The Harrisburg, Penn., company grew to become the world's largest manufacturer of electrical connectors and connecting devices.
In 1991, the foundation made the decision to invest all of its assets in accelerating the emergence of biomedical engineering as a mainstream academic discipline. So far, it has invested more than $720 million in the field.
At the height of its grant-making, the foundation supported the creation and enhancement of biomedical engineering departments, including building construction and renovation projects. The foundation supported the creation of 38 new departments of biomedical engineering and supported major enhancements to dozens of other biomedical engineering departments and programs.
The foundation gave grants for independent research, graduate fellowships, industrial internships, summer internships, the creation of textbooks and other teaching materials, cost-reducing medical technologies, special opportunities for advancing the field, and biomedical engineering-related conferences and meetings.
For the next three years, the foundation will manage existing grants, convene research and education meetings, and conduct program assessments. In 2006, The Whitaker Foundation will complete its mission and close.