Professor Robert Langer delivers Millennium Technology Prize Lecture

The pioneer of applying engineering to create groundbreaking new ways of drug delivery, Professor Robert Langer, was at the the Wellcome Trust on Thursday 22 October to deliver the Millennium Technology Prize lecture at the invitation of The Royal Academy of Engineering and the Technology Academy Foundation.

He discussed the development of fields such as controlled drug delivery, transdermal therapy and tissue engineering. Professor Langer also spoke of his laboratory’s work in treating damaged vocal cords by means of a gel from a new type of polyethylene glycol polymer, which mimics the collagen and elastin proteins of the vocal cords.

Professor Langer’s research laboratory at MIT is the largest biomedical engineering laboratory in the world. At 43, he was the youngest person in history to be elected to all three American science academies and, in 2008, he was awarded the Millennium Technology Prize “for his invention and development of innovative biomaterials for controlled drug release and tissue regeneration that have significantly improved human health”. He is the most cited engineer in history. With more than 600 patents, he is among the most prolific of all medical inventors and pioneered the development of polymer casings, which release drugs into the body in a controlled manner.

Professor Langer’s visit was jointly supported by The Royal Academy of Engineering and the Technology Academy Foundation which awards the Millennium Technology Prize. Professor Langer exemplifies the mission of the Millennium Technology Prize as his technologies have saved and improved the lives of millions of people,” said Dr Ainomaija Haarla, President and CEO of the Technology Academy Foundation of Finland.

Philip Greenish, CEO of The Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “Professor Langer has been a pivotal figure in bringing applied science and engineering together for the advancement of medical invention and his research will continue to have a major impact on the health and well being of society.”

Professor Langer's major new project is delivering drugs to treat prostate cancer and possibly ovarian cancer- by using nanoparticles. The method involves putting an approved cancer drug, docetaxel, in a nanoparticle that has a homing device to take it directly to the tumor.

Notes for editors

  1. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.
  2. The Millennium Technology Prize the world’s most respected technology prize, is awarded every two years by Finland’s Technology Academy Foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to promote Finnish technology by supporting research that contributes to improved living conditions and sustainable development. The prize recognises technological achievements that improve the quality of human life. The prize pool is €1,1million.
  3. The Wellcome Trust is the largest charity in the UK. It funds innovative biomedical research, in the UK and internationally, spending over £600 million each year to support the brightest scientists with the best ideas. The Wellcome Trust supports public debate about biomedical research and its impact on health and wellbeing.

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For more information please contact: Tonia Page, PR Consultant on 07770 845984 or Cherilyn Ireton, Millennium Prize consultant on 07981644332