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Whitaker Foundation and Helen F. Whitaker Fund (1975–2006)

Total Assets (endowment): $60,000,000[1]

Total Giving: $800,000,000[2]

Prominent Grants: The Whitaker Foundation funded the establishment of more than 75 biomedical engineering departments at prominent universities nationwide.

Summary: The Whitaker Foundation was created and funded with an initial endowment of $60 million by U.A. Whitaker upon his death in 1975.  His wife, Helen, who shared in his philanthropy during his lifetime, joined him in bequeathing an additional $37 million to the Foundation when she died in 1982. Whitaker asked, but did not require, that the Foundation spend down all of its assets within 40 years. Throughout its history, the Foundation primarily supported interdisciplinary medical research, with a focus on biomedical engineering.  It contributed more than $700 million to universities and medical schools to support faculty research, graduate students, program development, and construction of facilities. Most of its efforts were directed toward the establishment and enhancement of formal educational programs and the support of especially talented students and faculty[3].

After 30 years of support for the development of biomedical engineering in the United States, The Whitaker Foundation felt that it had achieved its primary objective of helping the American biomedical engineering field grow into a legitimate widespread discipline. In 2006, the Foundation ceased operations, and committed its remaining funds to a grant program focused on strengthening international collaborative links between young leaders in BME worldwide. Under the guidance of the a Steering Committee and the Institute of International Education, the Whitaker International Program is designed to bring international experience and insight to the field of biomedical engineering.