The Virginia-based Whitaker Foundation has awarded $15 million to the two-year-old Department of Bioengineering at UC Berkeley, boosting work on biomedical advances to diagnose and treat disease and prolong healthy life.
Officials say the gift to the College of Engineering will help support increased student enrollment, new faculty positions, expanded courses and research programs, and a new building.
“We’re committed to educating a whole new kind of engineer at Berkeley – a bioengineer who is grounded in biology, engineering, and in the many fields that will be critical to medical advances that are just beyond our grasp today,” Paul Gray, dean of the UC Berkeley College of Engineering, said in a news release.
“The Whitaker Foundation has been a catalyst in furthering biomedical engineering across the country. Its gift to Berkeley has helped ignite a very special teaching and research effort here.”
Established in 1998, the Department of Bioengineering is the newest department at UC Berkeley and the first created in the College of Engineering in 40 years. It is part of the campus’s Health Sciences Initiative, launched last fall as a broad interdisciplinary approach to education and research in the health sciences.
The department is planned to become a unique, two-campus entity, administered jointly by UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco.
The Whitaker Foundation has awarded more than $525 million to biomedical engineering programs at colleges and universities.
The foundation supports about 400 faculty research projects, 150 graduate fellows, and 100 education and internship programs in the United States and Canada.
Engineers, biologists, computer scientists, physicians, and others make up the department’s faculty and collaborators.
Bioengineering at UC Berkeley has been one of the most competitive majors for admission in recent years.
Over the next five years, enrollment in the department will increase to 300 undergraduates and 100 graduate students, a rise of 63 percent from the time of the department’s inception.
Six new faculty members also will be hired.