03 February 2015

Ground-breaking chemical engineer wins million pound prize

Professor Robert Langer

The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) has welcomed the announcement of the 2015 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, which has been awarded to Professor Robert Langer for his visionary and ground-breaking work in the field of bioengineering.
Langer graduated in chemical engineering at Cornell University in New York in 1970 before going on to achieve his doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Langer was awarded the second Queen Elizabeth Prize for his revolutionary advances and leadership in engineering at the interface with chemistry and medicine. This places his work on a par with Sir Tim Berners Lee and his colleagues, who took the inaugural prize in 2013 for their pioneering work on the creation of the Internet.

Now an Institute Professor at MIT, Langer has deployed his chemical engineering skills, systems thinking and interdisciplinary approach to design controlled drug delivery systems for the treatment of diseases including cancer and mental illness.

Langer also received the United States National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Barack Obama in 2013.

With over 1,000 granted, or pending, patents for research and 22 honorary degrees from universities across the world, the technologies emerging from his research have touched the lives of an estimated 2 billion people worldwide.

IChemE president, Geoff Maitland, said: “Bob Langer’s achievement demonstrates the importance of chemical engineering on a truly global scale. His pioneering work in drug delivery, tissue engineering and nanotechnology has touched the lives of billions of people.

“He has developed a field that, quite simply, didn’t previously exist. This highlights the most important role that chemical engineers play in society today - improving quality of life for all.

“On behalf of IChemE and the chemical engineering profession I extend our congratulations to a truly innovative, forward thinking and celebrated chemical engineer.”

The announcement of the winner for the £1 million prize that celebrates engineers responsible for ground breaking innovations that benefit humanity globally, was made at the Royal Academy of Engineering, London, UK on 3 February by Lord Brown Madingley, Chair of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation, in the presence of His Royal Highness The Duke of York.

Her Majesty The Queen will present the prize to Professor Langer at Buckingham Palace later this year.

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IChemE is a registered charity in England & Wales (214379), and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 039661).