The Department of Biomedical Engineering hopes a $25 million gift can help cement a position as a world leader in its field. The gift comes from Ann Lurie, a Chicago-based philanthropist who has a long relationship with the University that began when her late husband Robert was a student.

Paul Wong
The Lurie family has given a total of $45 million to the University over the years, including money for the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Tower on North Campus.

This is the largest grant the College of Engineering has ever received. The Lurie family previously contributed $12 million to the college and $5 million to the Business School.

The family also endowed the Marion Elizabeth Blue Chair in the School of Social Work, which along with other contributions put the family’s total donations at $45 million.

The money has been allocated to both the Biomedical Engineering Department and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

The grant “provides matching funds for a Whitaker Grant to build a biomedical research facility (and) allows us to double the size of our solid state research facility for Microsystems and nanotechnology,” Engineering Dean Stephen Director said.

The money will provide expanded research laboratories for the department in a central location.

As a new department, biomedical engineering faces challenges in building an academic and research infrastructure that this gift should alleviate.

“It’s going to have a big impact on the college, money is going toward expansion of facilities for biomedical and microtechnology, which (will) keep us competitive and allow us to do things we couldn’t do,” EECS and biomedical engineering Prof. Ken Wise said.

“The gift is necessary to sustain the momentum we have now,” he added.

Transitioning to the status of a nationally renowned department is one of the goals that Lurie’s gift will support. New facilities will be a recruitment tool as the department draws new faculty.

“We have been hiring outstanding faculty and we can now give them research facilities (in one central location),” Director said.

Biomedical engineering senior Craig Poster said he believes his department is “still trying to get started.”

“Research will help in building up the reputation of the department,” he said.

The new facilities will allow cutting edge research by professors and students. The resources available will allow new avenues of investigation.

“It’s a dream come true,” biomedical engineering Prof. Matthew O’Donnell said.

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