Fifty years ago, Uncas Whitaker – the founder of the Harrisburg, PA-based electrical connector company AMP — foresaw what engineers could do for medicine and human health. In 1975, he established a nonprofit foundation to help advance medical science and heal the sick and injured.

Until its planned closing in summer 2006, the Whitaker Foundation contributed more than $700 million to various universities and medical schools, primarily to support biomedical engineering education and research. The foundation helped to create 30 biomedical engineering programs and helped finance the construction of 13 university buildings, many of them subsequently bearing the name Whitaker in some form.

In podcast #17, Dr. Peter Katona, who served the Whitaker foundation as President and Chief Executive Officer from 2000 to 2006, will tell us about the full breadth of the Whitaker Foundation’s influence on the field of bioengineering, why its leaders chose to end the foundation’s run, and share his sage advice to young people considering bioengineering careers. (Dr. Katona ought to know: nearly 1,500 young researchers began their careers with Whitaker Foundation funding.) For more on the Whitaker Foundation, visit their web site.

Hosts Leah Kauffman and John Murphy. Interview by Leah Kauffman.

For more information about the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, visit:

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