F. Joseph Halcomb III, M.D. will receive an Honorary Doctor of Engineering degree at the UK May 2021 Commencement Ceremony for the College of Engineering on Friday, May 14, at Rupp Arena.
As the son of a small-town family physician in southern Kentucky, Dr. Halcomb grew up around the practice of medicine. He enrolled at UK in 1969 and began his college career with a visionary concept: he wanted to pursue an academic program that combined medicine and engineering. With the help of two UK professors, Halcomb began a study plan that prepared him for a groundbreaking career in the emerging medical device and biotechnology industries.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1974, and a medical degree in 1978. In his fourth year of medical school, he also enrolled in the graduate mechanical engineering program at MIT. By the time he completed his MIT degree and medical residency at UK, he recognized the need for mechanical engineering in orthopedics and began his career in the orthopedic industry.
In 1980, Dr. Halcomb joined Zimmer, a world leader in orthopedic and surgical products. Five years later he became vice president of product development, leading the development of joint replacement implants that revolutionized the industry. By 1993, he was president of Zimmer’s Hall Surgical Division. In 1995, he was recruited by biotechnology company Amgen to apply his medical device expertise in building a venture in cell therapy. Within a decade, Halcomb became Amgen’s vice president for drug product and device development and directed a team that launched revolutionary products and expanded the company’s reach worldwide.
In 2010, Dr. Halcomb established the Halcomb Family Endowed Fellowship in Medicine and Engineering at UK as a special tribute to his father. After a larger commitment to the endowment in 2016, the Department of Biomedical Engineering became the first named department at the university. His fellowship provides opportunities for graduate students to engage in premier interdisciplinary research in biomedical engineering. And the department now offers a unique undergraduate major in biomedical engineering.