Biomedical Engineering Program receives $1 million boost
The Whitaker Foundation has awarded the University of Wisconsin-Madison $1 million to accelerate expansion of its undergraduate and graduate programs in biomedical engineering (BME). The grant will enable the university to hire two new faculty members, attract top graduate students with fellowships, equip a new biomedical engineering teaching laboratory, and stimulate new research through seed grants.
In addition to the current graduate program (MS in BME), the university will implement new undergraduate and doctoral degrees (BS in BME and PhD in BME). Program leaders anticipate enrolling sophomores and doctoral students in the fall, 1998 semester. "The expansion will have immediate national impact because of the undergraduate program's unique educational emphasis in engineering design, and the graduate program's research emphasis in minimally invasive medical technology," said Professor Robert G. Radwin, chair of the Biomedical Engineering. "It will have local impact from the consolidation of individual efforts among the outstanding UW-Madison faculty through collaborative research between engineering and medical sciences at a major research university.
"The UW-Madison campus brings together preeminent faculty in a rich research environment through its world-class engineering, medical, and clinical science facilities," added Radwin. "The biomedical engineering program can easily consolidate these features into a research center of national stature. Expansion of the biomedical engineering program will provide a home for the new faculty and redirect existing faculty efforts into a focused departmental effort."
The BME undergraduate degree emphasizes engineering design in preparation for employment in biomedical industries and for graduate study. The program responds to the great demand for biomedical engineering among the university's students. At this time, no public institution in Wisconsin offers a BME degree. Novel aspects of the undergraduate program include design projects throughout the curriculum, supervised by a faculty mentor and a committee of affiliated faculty, clinicians and biomedical industry professionals; industry cooperatives/internships; continuous advising; flexibility in engineering specialization areas; student involvement in program evaluation and improvement; and an option to complete an MS degree in just one year after the BS degree. The curriculum will also enable a student to prepare for medical school in four years.
"The BME graduate degree emphasizes research in such minimally invasive medical technologies as laproscopic surgery, localized drug delivery, specialized biosensors, and sterotactic radiosurgery and biopsy," Radwin said.
The grant was made under the Whitaker Foundation's program of Special Opportunity Awards in Biomedical Engineering. These awards of up to $1 million are designed to enhance the field of biomedical engineering through permanent, high-quality programs that will have a lasting, beneficial effect. The emphasis is on education.
The foundation is the nation's largest private sponsor of biomedical engineering research and education. It supports more than 400 research projects, 140 graduate fellows and 100 education and internship programs at colleges and universities. The foundation also supports research to lower medical costs and underwrites the development of teaching materials.