After 27 years of funding young scientists interested in combining engineering with basic science and medical research, the Whitaker Foundation awarded its final round of biomedical engineering research grants this week. The 44 awards, totaling over $10 million, will support research ranging from tissue engineering and microsurgery tools to tumor imaging and directed wound healing at 34 US hospitals and universities.

Established in 1975 with funds from the estate of U.A. Whitaker, founder of Harrisburg, Penn.–based AMP, the Whitaker Foundation started the grants program in 1976, at a time when funding for bioengineering research was limited, according to the foundation. Its first grant award recipient, William Schuler Pierce, then professor of surgery at Penn State, developed the first Food and Drug Administration–approved artificial heart pumps. Whitaker has also funded work on artificial limbs, defibrillators, positron emission tomography scanners, and image-guided surgery.

As the field of biomedical engineering developed,...

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