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article imagePolymer pioneer scoops £1 million prize

By Tim Sandle     Feb 12, 2015 in Science
London - Robert Langer, an engineer at MIT who significantly changed the way medicines get into the body, has been awarded £1 million for the Queen Elizabeth Prize.
Robert Langer has earned this year’s Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering. This is worth £1 million (around $1.5 million). According to an official statement, the award is in recognition of: Langer being “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.”
The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering is a global £1 million prize that celebrates the engineers responsible for a ground-breaking innovation that has been of global benefit to humanity.
Robert Langer’s work has stretched across a number of critical fields. He has been involved in the development of cardiovascular stents, drugs to starve tumors of blood, cancer medication delivery systems, and artificial skin, among many other achievements.
Speaking about his career to the BBC, Langer said: “When I started doing a lot of this work in the 1970s, it probably was considered science fiction, in fact a lot of the people who reviewed our grants said we shouldn’t get the funds because it was like fiction. But you keep pushing, you keep believing in your ideas and eventually they do become reality.”
Langer has been profiled in the current edition of the science magazine The Scientist. In the featured interview, Langer explains that he once had to teach himself biology. “I was struggling tremendously to learn, reading all these papers in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, biology and medical journals, and probably understanding 10 percent. Then I’d go to the lab and do stuff, and that was hard, too.”
The hard work has led to Langer being the most cited engineer in history, with more than 1,000 patents.
More about polymers, Plastics, Awards, Queen elizabeth II
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