Dr Robert Langer
Dr Robert Langer has won the prestigious QEPrize for Engineering
A chemical engineer who pioneered the use of polymers for controlled drug-delivery in the treatment of diseases such as cancer and mental illness has been awarded the Queen Elizabeth Prize (QEPrize) for Engineering.
Dr Robert Langer, one of 11 Institute Professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, USA, will receive the prize, often referred to as the “Nobel” of the engineering world, in recognition of his groundbreaking work.
Dr Langer developed his first drug delivery system during the 1970s, where an early application of the controlled release technology was in polymer microspheres that deliver drugs over several months, technology which is now widely used to treat prostate cancer and endometriosis. Similar approaches have led to new treatments for schizophrenia, alcoholism, and drug addiction.
Later, he also helped pave the way for major innovations in tissue engineering, pioneering synthetic polymers that could deliver cells to form specific tissue structures. This concept led to the development of a new kind of artificial skin, now approved by the FDA for use on burn victimsand patients with diabetic skin ulcers. Many other such systems, including ones for new cartilage formation and spinal cord repair, are now in clinical trials.
Prime Minister, The Rt Hon David Cameron MP said: “I hope this prestigious prize will excite and inspire the next generation up and down the country to take up careers in engineering, so we continue to build a highly-skilled workforce that gives us a competitive edge on the world stage.”
The QEPrize will be presented to Dr Langer at Buckingham Palace later this year.