UW News

February 16, 2006

Former President Carter to speak at building dedication

Former President Jimmy Carter will be on campus Wednesday, March 8, to give the keynote address at the dedication of the new building at the corner of Pacific Ave. N.E. and 15th Ave. N.E. in honor of Dr. William H. Foege, a graduate of the UW School of Medicine who is recognized for developing the strategy that led to the elimination of smallpox. Foege is a former director of the Carter Center in Atlanta and a senior fellow at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He is also a former director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The building is the new home for the medical school’s Department of Genome Sciences and the Department of Bioengineering, jointly administered by the School of Medicine and the College of Engineering.

Bill Gates III, whose Gates Foundation contributed $50 million toward the building, will be a participant and speaker at the dedication. Other funding came from the federal government, the Whitaker Foundation and other private sources.

The dedication ceremony will be at 3 p.m. in a large tent just outside the new building. The event is free and open to the UW community and the public. UW President Mark Emmert, Foege, Dean Paul Ramsey of the School of Medicine and Acting Dean Mani Soma of the College of Engineering are the other scheduled speakers.

The layout of the 293,000 sq. ft. building is designed to promote collaboration among disciplines. The building’s two halves are joined by a bridge on each of the top three floors, and conference rooms and gathering spaces encourage intellectual cross-fertilization and collegiality.

The Department of Bioengineering began as a center in 1967 and became a department in 1997. With a cutting-edge research and training program, Bioengineering has been responsible for more than 200 patents and is recognized as one of the top graduate programs in the nation. In the past eight years, the number of full-time faculty positions has increased from 12 to 19, making the need for new space a critical problem. Until now, Bioengineering’s programs and faculty members have been spread among various locations on campus, with the administrative headquarters in the Harris Hydraulics Lab, an aging facility near South Campus Center.

The Department of Genome Sciences was established in 2001, when the former Department of Genetics and Department of Molecular Biotechnology were fused to form the new unit housed in the School of Medicine. The Department of Genome Sciences has allowed the UW to build on the work of the Human Genome Project, launching several projects to apply genomic and computational approaches to biology and medicine.

Foege, for whom the building will be named, has a long history with the UW, as well as within the international health community. He was raised in Chewelah and Colville, Wash., and earned a bachelor’s degree from Pacific Lutheran University before entering the UW School of Medicine. He graduated in 1961, completed an internship in New York, and went on to earn a master’s degree in public health from Harvard in 1965. After working in several areas of the globe, he was named to lead the Smallpox Eradication Program of the Centers for Disease Control in the early 1970s and became CDC director in 1977. In 1984 he was a founder of the Task Force for Child Survival, a working group spanning several international organizations, and in 1986, former President Carter asked him to become executive director of the Carter Center, a position he held until 1993.

In recent years, he has been working with the Gates Foundation on global health initiatives, and is now a senior fellow with the Foundation. He is also an affiliate professor in the UW School of Public Health and Community Medicine. In 1994, Foege received the UW’s Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus award, the University’s highest honor for a graduate.