A University of Kentucky engineering graduate who became a giant in bioengineering technology has given $7 million to establish the F. Joseph Halcomb III M.D. Department of Biomedical Engineering in UK’s College of Engineering.
The gift from Joe and Joani Halcomb will add one endowed chair and two endowed fellowships to a faculty of eight. Additionally, the Halcomb Family Graduate Fellowships in Biomedical Engineering will add fully funded graduate fellowships to attract top graduate students and support their research.
“Engineering technology has been responsible for huge advances in modern medicine,” said John Walz, dean of the engineering college. “From implanted devices to prosthetics to regenerative tissue, biomedical engineers improve the well-being of those with significant health care needs. The Halcombs’ naming gift will ensure we provide the best education and training opportunities available to the students in this flourishing program.”
Joe Halcomb, a Kentucky native, credited the gift to an example set by Father Ed Murray, the UK hospital chaplain when Halcomb was in medical school at UK. The Halcombs were short on cash to move to Boston so Joe Halcomb could start the master’s program at MIT. Murray handed them an envelope stuffed with $20 bills, he said.
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Instead of repayment, Halcomb said, Murray asked him to do the same for others.
Halcomb was a senior vice president at Zimmer’s Orthopedic Implant Division, then moved to Amgen. He was inducted into the College of Engineering’s Hall of Distinction in 2014.
Halcomb said UK is unique in having a medical school and hospital along with engineering, pharmacy and dentistry.
“The possibilities for interdisciplinary research connected to biomedical engineering are unbelievable,” he said.