November 16, 2000

The University of Washington’s nationally ranked Department of Bioengineering has established its first endowed professorship, a move that will help the department maintain its leading role in the fast-paced field of bioengineering, officials announced today.

“This is very important to us – it will help us retain the highly distinguished faculty that we already have, and attract other top scientists,” said Yongmin Kim, department chair. “We’re rated among the top programs in the nation, and this shows us that we’re also being recognized by people in this region as a unique and strong program.”

The professorship was made possible with a $500,000 gift from the Washington Research Foundation. Kim said the department plans to name the endowed professor in the spring.

Ron Howell, president of the foundation, called the gift a way to help the UW stay at the forefront of a field that promises to revolutionize people’s lives in areas ranging from fighting disease to growing new organs in the lab.

“We’re very interested in the cutting technology of the future, and like to find ways to support that now,” Howell said.

At the same time it provided funding for the professorship, the foundation donated $200,000 for haptics research being done by Professor Blake Hannaford in the UW’s Department of Electrical Engineering. Haptics involves the study of robotic techniques to find better ways for humans and computers to interact. The foundation also funded four scholarships for outstanding graduate engineering students, two in computer science and two in electrical engineering.

The UW Department of Bioengineering was established in 1967 as the Center for Bioengineering. It has an interdisciplinary focus, operating under the direction of both the College of Engineering and the School of Medicine. The department ranks first in the nation among bioengineering programs for National Institutes of Health funding and is rated among the nation’s top five programs by U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges.

The Washington Research Foundation was created in 1981 as a technology transfer organization for technology developed at the University of Washington and other institutions in the state. Using licensing proceeds, the foundation has established two additional entities, WRF Capital and WRF Venture Center, both designed to assist new start-up companies. The foundation continues to pursue licensing activities for technologies it manages and, using revenues generated from licensing and contributions from WRF Capital, it makes gifts to support scholarships and research at Washington State research institutions.

Gifts from the foundation to the UW now total about $6.8 million, and equity from licensing agreements the foundation has negotiated for the university has pumped another $6 million into the school, Howell said, adding that the foundation has done about $66 million in licensing revenues. All told, he said, the foundation has so far given nearly $80 million to the UW.


Reposted with permission

Nationally ranked bioengineering department gets its first endowed professorship