Dr Robert Langer recognised for ground-breaking achievements in engineering.
Chemical engineer and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr Robert Langer, has been awarded the 2015 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering for his revolutionary advances and leadership in engineering with chemistry and medicine.
Raising the profile of engineering, the £1 million prize celebrates the engineers responsible for innovation that has been of global benefit to humanity and is the highest honour at MIT. The announcement was made by Lord Browne of Madingley, Chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation, in the presence of His Royal Highness The Duke of York at the Royal Academy of Engineering in London on 3 February. Her Majesty The Queen will present the prize to Langer at Buckingham Palace later this year.
Langer’s laboratory at MIT is the world's largest academic biomedical engineering laboratory. With over 1000 issued and pending patents and over 200 major prizes to his name, he is the most cited engineer in history.
His work has provided the foundation for a myriad of health innovations, including the long-lasting brain cancer treatment Giladel Wafer; the prostate cancer and endometriosis treatments Lupron Depot, Zoladex, and Decapeptyl SR; the schizophrenia treatment Respirdal Consta; the diabetes treatment Bydureon; and the drug-coated cardiovascular stents that alone have benefited 10 million heart patients.
Langer was the first person to engineer polymers to control the delivery of large molecular weight drugs for the treatment of diseases such as cancer and mental illness.
“Many young people are interested in engineering, but they want to work on problems that improve the human condition," explained Professor John Hennessy, President, Stanford University on the award judging panel. "Bob [Dr Robert Langer] is a model of somebody who has done that, and I think that’s a great way to inspire young people about what engineering can do.”
One of Langer’s most recent projects is a microchip-based implant capable of storing and releasing precise doses of a drug on-demand or at scheduled intervals for up to 16 years. Microchips can respond to wireless signals, which can activate, deactivate, or modify the frequency or dose of the drug, without being removed from the patient in cases of diabetes, female contraception, and osteoporosis.