NEW YORK, July 30 - The Whitaker Foundation said Monday that it has awarded a grant of $12 million to the new Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of California, Davis. Of the total grant, $10 million has been earmarked to help fund the university’s new Genome and Biomedical Sciences building, scheduled to be completed in 2004.
The grant could trigger an additional $35 million in total matching funds from the state government and university sources.
The Department of Biomedical Engineering at UC Davis was established within the College of Engineering in February. The department intends to focus its initial efforts on genomics, with the development of mathematical tools and computer programs to analyze genomic sequence data among its first goals.
Craig Benham, recently appointed as associate director and current interim director of the UC Davis Genome Center, will have a faculty position in the department, which currently has six faculty members. The university plans to hire another 10 faculty over the next five years.
Whitaker Foundation spokesman Frank Blanchard said that a major factor in awarding the grant was UC Davis' plan to bring together genomics and studies of whole organs. "The department has a very well-developed plan led by a clear vision for the future," said Blanchard.
In addition to its genomics research, the department will also develop microinstruments for medical use and study the fluid dynamics in blood.
The Whitaker Foundation establishes competitive grant programs to support interdisciplinary medical research, with a primary focus on biomedical engineering. It has contributed more than $450 million to universities and medical schools in the United States and Canada since its inception in 1975.