Queen Elizabeth Prize winner announced

Groundbreaking chemical engineer, Dr Robert Langer, has been awarded the 2015 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering – the global £1 million prize that celebrates the engineers responsible for a ground-breaking innovation that has been of global benefit to humanity.

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 Dr Langer at Buckingham Palace later this year. PIF takes a look at Dr Robert Langer and why he won this prestigious engineering award.

Dr Robert Langer the winner of The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering

Who is Dr Robert Langer?

Dr Langer is one of 11 Institute Professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, USA. His laboratory at MIT - with over 100 students, postdoctoral students, and visiting scientists at any one time - is the world's largest academic biomedical engineering laboratory.

He has over 1000 issued and pending patents, over 200 major prizes to his name, and is the most cited engineer in history (Science, 2014). His work has helped lay 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.

2015 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering

A chemical engineer by training, Dr 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. His unconventional thinking toppled the established view that controlled-release drug delivery would not work for large molecules like proteins, which are very sensitive to their surroundings.

Why did Dr Langer win the Queen Elizabeth Prize?

Professor Lord Broers FREng FRS HonFMedSci, Chair of Judges for the QE Prize, said: “Robert Langer has made an immense contribution to healthcare and to numerous other fields by applying engineering systems thinking to biochemical problems.

“Not only has he revolutionised drug delivery, but his open-minded approach to innovation and his ability to think ‘outside the box’ have led to great advances in the field of tissue engineering. He is a truly inspiring leader who has attracted brilliant people to these relatively new and exciting areas of research and is extremely involved in the commercial development of his group’s research."

Prime Minister, The Rt Hon David Cameron MP added:

We want Britain to lead the world when it comes to engineering. Equipping our young people with the skills they need to help them secure the well-paid jobs of the future is a crucial part of our long term economic plan.

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.

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