The Program consists of two branches: Whitaker Fellows and Whitaker Scholars

Whitaker Fellows are biomedical engineers (or bioengineers, which is considered synonymous) ranging from graduating seniors to those conducting doctoral studies. Whitaker Scholars are biomedical engineers who have/will have a PhD by the beginning date of their awards. Applicants are eligible ONLY for one or the other (depending on their academic level).


Applicants must be highly qualified and must have demonstrated significant interest in biomedical engineering. Their applications should demonstrate synergy between career goals and the proposed overseas experience. It is expected that Fellows will choose productive careers in biomedical engineering, and that their overseas experience will help their professional development.

Fellows should have a BS or MS degree in biomedical engineering or a closely related field. Because some institutions do not offer biomedical engineering or its equivalent as a degree program, exceptions may be made based on a demonstrated commitment to the field of BME through significant coursework, research, laboratory or work experience.

If not currently enrolled, the applicant’s latest degree may not have been obtained more than three years prior to the start of the grant.

The Whitaker International Fellow award will be approximately one academic year in length, and should be used to conduct work commensurate with the grantee’s experience in BME.


Applicants must be highly qualified, and must have demonstrated significant achievement in research, education, or other societal activity related to biomedical engineering. Their applications should demonstrate synergy between career goals and the proposed overseas experience. It is expected that Scholars will become leaders in biomedical engineering, and that their overseas experience will help them achieve professional leadership.

Scholars should have a degree in biomedical engineering and a doctorate (which may not have been obtained more than three years prior to the start of the grant) OR will receive the PhD prior the start of the grant.

Scholar awards can be for as little as one academic semester or as long as two years, but are typically one academic year in length. Second year funding is contingent upon demonstration of progress made during the first year. The Whitaker International Scholar award will be used to conduct postdoctoral work.

Host Country

Grantees will come from diverse geographic areas of the United States and they will conduct their Whitaker Fellow or Scholar activity in diverse regions of the world. Candidates may apply to study or do research in any country outside of the U.S., except Canada, because it is contiguous with the United States, and the international experience is minimized.


A Whitaker International Fellow or Scholar experience will ideally advance an emerging biomedical engineering career, while also advancing the goal of increased international collaboration in BME.
Activities could include (but are not limited to):
  • Graduating seniors: Pursuing an academic year of study or research that leads to graduate study in BME, with the possible ability to transfer credit toward an advanced degree.
  • Graduate students: Conducting study or research at an overseas institution with established ties to your home institution in order to build on an existing collaboration or initiating a new relationship between your home institution and an overseas institution through collaboration in the lab or in the classroom.
  • At all pre-doctoral levels: Performing in-depth work in industry or policy-making (related to BME) through an internship assignment.
  • During/After the PhD: Engaging in a culminating experience by conducting research to foster career opportunities and/or to link the US and international BME communities.
  • Post-Doctoral: Pursuing pre-professional post-doctoral work at a leading overseas institution.

These are only some possibilities of relevant BME-related activities one could pursue. Applicants are free to design their own BME-relevant activity. Visit our Fellows and Scholars Directory to see what projects previous award recipients undertook.

Number of Grants

The Whitaker International Fellows and Scholars Program can support between 50 and 60 grants per year.

However, only those applications and projects which the Whitaker Program Review Committee deems of high quality will be funded. For the 2011-12 application cycle, 40 out of 90 applications were selected by the Review Committee for funding.

Host Institution Affiliation

Any international institution that offers an outstanding professional experience in biomedical engineering may serve as a host institution. It is the applicant’s responsibility to select the host institution.  Grantees already at the host institution prior to receiving the Whitaker grant, can apply to the same host institution, but cannot be there for more than 6 months before the grant start date.

Fellow candidates are strongly recommended to include in their applications a substantive letter of support (one that addresses the specific proposed project) from a host institution or advisor.

Scholar candidates are required to include with their applications a host institution letter of support attesting to the depth and nature of the affiliation.

Grant length and start dates

A Fellow’s grant length is expected to be approximately one academic year (as defined by the academic calendar of the host country, but typically 9-12 months).

A Scholar’s grant will typically be one academic year in length, but can be as short as one academic semester, and as long as two academic years (for use in post-doctoral research fellowships). Applications should justify the length of time, based on how it would benefit the applicant, the activity, and the field of BME.

Awards typically begin between August 1st and October 1st, but may begin as early as July 1 of the competition year (2012), and as late as June 30 of the following year (2013).