History

CampusThe J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Florida is the newest department in the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. Established in 2002, it grew out of a program made possible by a grant from the Whitaker Foundation.

In 2006 the department received a $10 million donation from Dr. J. Crayton Pruitt and his family foundation. It was matched with funds from the state of Florida Major Gift Trust Fund, yielding a $20 million endowment. Pruitt’s gift is among the largest cash gifts received by UF. As a result of the gift, University officials named the department in honor of the Pruitt family, making it the first-ever named department at UF.

Pruitt was a thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon and was considered a pioneer in the world of biomedical engineering, working in the field before scientists and educators had a name for it. He’s well-known for co-inventing the Pruitt-Inahara Carotid Shunt, a device used to carry blood to a patient’s brain while a surgeon clears clogged arteries. After suffering a heart attack in 1995 and undergoing a transplant at UF Health Shands Hospital, Pruitt showed his gratitude by donating millions to the department. Although he passed away in 2011, his legacy continues and is formally honored every year during Pruitt Research Day.