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Giving it away – Funding medical science

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The Whitaker Foundation in Arlington, Va., is working to spend all its assets to create new university departments and programs in biomedical engineering, the St. Petersburg Times reported Aug. 20.

After its assets peaked in 1997 at $450 million, the foundation is set to give away its entire endowment by 2006, the Times said.

Unlike most big private foundations, which typically spend only 5 percent of their assets each year – the minimum required by U.S. law – the Whitaker Foundation is giving away more than double the minimum required.

Trustees — including the two daughters of electronics executive Uncas Whitaker, who died in 1975 – decided nine years ago to spend all the foundation’s assets in one area, the Times said.

The type of research the foundation backs – which has led to the heart pacemaker, magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, and CAT scans – now is taught in 89 academic departments and programs in U.S. universities, up fro 42 in 1992.

For full story, go to the St. Petersburg Times.

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