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December 6, 2007

Purdue's Weldon School partners with University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez have formed a partnership agreement designed to facilitate collaborative research and education efforts between the two institutions.

"This first-of-its-kind partnership builds upon the complementary strengths of Purdue and the University of Puerto Rico–Mayagüez," said George Wodicka, head of the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. "It will allow our institutions to work together in the field of biomedical engineering through faculty and student exchanges, collaborative research, and cooperative curriculum initiatives."

Eduardo J. Juan, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, is coordinating the development of a new graduate program in bioengineering there and will direct the partnership.

"While the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez and Purdue University have informally collaborated on programs to advance student learning and discovery in the past, this agreement creates a new opportunity to expand our collaboration and have a larger impact on student training and technology in health care," said Juan, a Purdue alumnus.

Jorge Iván Vélez Arocho, chancellor of the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, said he believes the partnership will have a positive effect beyond Puerto Rico commonwealth.

"We are very excited and grateful for the opportunity of collaborating with Purdue, which is a long friend of our campus in many ways," Arocho said. "With this initiative, we think that we will be able to provide Puerto Rico, Latin America and the Caribbean a powerful program in bioengineering that will improve the research and provide better training for the people of the whole region, particularly because of the emphasis Puerto Rico has developed in biotechnology."

Ramón Vásquez, the university's dean of engineering, said the partnership would be instrumental in advancing its own program.

"When two prestigious institutions such as Purdue and URRM join forces, one can only expect great things to happen," Vásquez said. "This partnership is a key component in our effort to develop bioengineering at UPRM."

Leah Jamieson, Purdue's John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering, said, "This partnership is an exciting opportunity with tremendous potential, and one that advances Purdue's commitment to meeting the global grand challenges facing society, in this case the critical one of how optimally to apply technology to improve health care. The synergy of our two institutions will create not only the next generation of medical and bioproducts, but also a new generation of leaders in this growing field."

The first formal step of the partnership is the creation of the Collaboration in Biomedical Engineering Research Graduate Student Fellowship Grant program, jointly funded by both institutions. This program will begin immediately and allow faculty members associated with the engineering graduate programs with the University of Puerto Rico–Mayagüez and faculty members of Purdue's Weldon School to jointly apply for grants that will fund fellowships for graduate students performing research as part of a Purdue/UPRM team.   

Purdue's biomedical efforts began with the Hillenbrand Biomedical Engineering Center, established in 1974. More than 75 U.S. patents have been issued based on Purdue discovery research in biomedical engineering. Purdue established its school of biomedical engineering in 1998 in response to surging student and faculty interest in the field. With the support from the Weldon family, it was named the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering in 2004.

The University of Puerto Rico was created by an act of the Legislative Assembly on March 12, 1903. Today, the Mayagüez campus of the University of Puerto Rico continues its development in the best tradition of a land-grant institution. It is a co-educational, bilingual and non-sectarian school comprising the colleges of Agricultural Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Engineering, and the Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies.

Media contact: Clyde Hughes, (765) 494-2073,

Sources:   George Wodicka, (765) 494-6241,

Eduardo Juan, (787) 832-4040 EXT. 3205,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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