The collaboration between Indiana University School of Medicine and the Purdue University Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering began a quarter-century ago (1993) to unite the State of Indiana's largest engineering and medical enterprises to revolutionize healthcare through technological means and spur related economic development.

The central element was strategically established as a jointly developed doctoral (PhD) degree program in biomedical engineering with clinical immersion for training the next generation of medical device innovators.

In 1996, the Indiana Commission for HIgher Education approved the newly-minted PhD degree program. In that same year the Lilly Endowment set a long term programmatic goal to "recruit intellectual capital" into the State of Indiana. With strong regional support the fledgling program expanded rapidly to its current state of nearly 90 appointed faculty members on both campuses, many with joint appointments, including 10 biomedical engineers with faculty appointments at the joint IUPUI campus. Over 150 total affiliated faculty serve jointly on the PhD thesis research committees.

To date, more than 250 PhD graduates have benefited from this unique integration of applied engineering and clinical medicine to go onto leadership positions in the medical device, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical fields in Indiana

Funding support and a growing life sciences industry has continued to drive the development of this unique partnership. In 2000, the Lilly Endowment furthered their support by awarding the Indiana University School of Medicine a $105 million award known as the Indiana Genomics Initiative (INGEN). This award provided extensive state-of-the-art research cores that now serve as valuable resources to the joint research programs, including $4.4 million dollars directed for the expansion of the newly established physician-engineer training program.

This integrated training program uniquely leads highly talented students to obtain both medicine (MD) and engineering (PhD) degrees in just eight years of training spanning the extensive research resources of both institutions. Several years later the NIH recognized this unique program as an exemplar MSTP program with annual funding support. This select, NIH-funded, joint training program was the first of several that now complement the core PhD training in biomedical engineering.

In 2003, the Lilly Foundation awarded an additional $50 million to the School of Medicine to supplement these research and training initiatives. This funding contributed to a significant expansion in faculty as well as core and research training support staff which occurred concomitantly with a major expansion in research space. The engineering - medicine alliance was propelled further by $5M in annual recurring support from the State of Indiana (in 2003) specifically for development of the growing partnership between the Schools.

These funding foundations were then bolstered through the generosity of the Weldon Family Foundation establishing via a $10M gift naming the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering in 2004 and supporting the programs that were productively leveraging the complementary academic resources of the two institutions toward clinical translation of new medical technologies.

In the 25 years since the beginning of their interactions, the two Schools have collaboratively been awarded well over $100M from federal agencies to facilitate the integration and enhancement of joint research and training programs that focus on functionally connecting the West Lafayette and Indianapolis campuses in synergistic ways. This historic and unique partnership is well positioned to continue to expand its extraordinary engineering and clinical impact for decades to come.

Timeline

1993

  • Formal collaborations begin between Indiana University School of Medicine and biomedical engineering faculty at Purdue University.

1996

  • Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program approved by the Purdue Board Trustees and sanctioned by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education
  • Lilly Endowment sets a long-term goal to "recruit intellectual capital" into the State of Indiana.

2000

  • Lilly Endowment awards the Indiana University School of Medicine a $105M award known as the Indiana Genomics Initiative (INGEN). $4.4M of INGEN is directed for the expansion of the Indiana University physician-scientist/engineer training program to include the new program in biomedical engineering.

2001

  • Purdue Department of Biomedical Engineering and Indiana University School of Medicine form joint MD/PhD program.

2003

  • Lilly Foundation awards the Indiana University School of Medicine $50M for research and training initiatives.
  • State of Indiana allocates $5M in annual recurring support for the engineering - medicine alliance, specifically for further development of the Purdue Department of Biomedical Engineering in close integration with the Indiana University School of Medicine.
  • Weldon Family Foundation makes a $10M gift to Purdue. Purdue Board of Trustees elevates the Department of Biomedical Engineering to the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

2004

  • In recognition of the generosity of the Weldon family, the Purdue Board of Trustees elevates the Department of Biomedical Engineering to the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering

2008

  • National Institutes of Health Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) grant with Indiana University School of Medicine awarded.
  • MD/PhD Program receives National Institutes of Health Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) funding.

2013

  • National Institutes of Health T-32 training grant for diabetes research awarded.

2018

  • Engineering Medicine Partnership expands to include a new graduate fellowship program, a novel MD/MS program, and increased integration of graduate training and research programs.