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2008 Millennium Technology Prize awarded to Professor Robert Langer for intelligent drug delivery

(L-R) Finalists Professor David Payne, Professor Emmanuel Desurvire, Dr Andrew Viterbi, Dr Randy Giles and winner Professor Robert Langer, with the University of Leicester's finalist, Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys. Picture credit: Millennium Technology Prize.

2008 Millennium Technology Prize awarded to Professor Robert Langer for intelligent drug delivery

Father of controlled drug delivery and tissue engineering is announced as winner of prestigious prize.

Issued on 11 June

HELSINKI, FINLAND

The 2008 Millennium Technology Prize was presented to Professor Robert Langer today in Helsinki for developing innovative biomaterials for controlled drug release. The world's largest technology prize is awarded by Technology Academy Finland for a technological innovation that significantly improves quality of human life and promotes sustainable development. President of the Republic of Finland Tarja Halonen handed Professor Langer the prize of EUR 800,000 and "Peak", the prize trophy, at the Grand Award Ceremony on Wednesday afternoon.

Professor Robert Langer's innovations have had a significant impact on fighting cancer, heart disease, and numerous other diseases. His work has also brought about significant advances in tissue engineering, including synthetic replacement for biological tissues such as artificial skin. Over 100 million people a year are already using advanced drug delivery systems and this number is rising rapidly. In the future, tissue engineering may revolutionize medical treatment that could affect millions of other individuals. "Tissue engineering holds the promise of creating virtually any new tissue or organ," said Professor Langer.

Known as the father of controlled drug delivery and tissue engineering, Professor Langer has been cited as "one of history's most prolific inventors in medicine". Professor Langer's research laboratory at MIT is the largest biomedical engineering laboratory in the world.

The other 2008 Laureates were each awarded prizes of EUR 115,000 at the Award Ceremony. The DNA fingerprinting technique developed by Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys has revolutionized the field of forensic science and methods of defining family relationships. Dr. Andrew Viterbi's innovation is the Viterbi algorithm, used to avoid errors in wireless communications systems and devices such as mobile phones. The fourth innovation awarded, the erbium-doped fibre amplifier (EDFA) invented by Professor Emmanuel Desurvire, Dr. Randy Giles and Professor David Payne, has vastly increased the transmission capacity of the global optical fibre networks that carry telephone and Internet communications signals.

"It is sufficient to say that each and every one of today's Laureates has excelled in fulfilling the most important of our requirements: benefit to mankind," said Stig Gustavson, Chairman of Technology Academy Finland.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

2008 Millennium Prize Winner Professor Robert Langer

"For his invention and development of innovative biomaterials for controlled drug release and tissue regeneration that have saved human lives and improved the lives of millions of patients."

Institute Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, Massachusetts, USA.

Citizen of the United States of America. Born August 29, 1948 in Albany, New York, USA. Married with three children.

FURTHER INFORMATION on the Winner and his work at http://www.millenniumprize.fi

PHOTOGRAPHS of the Winner and Laureates can be found at http://www.millenniumprize.fi/en/media/2008-laureates

Images from the Award Ceremony will be available a few hours after the event.

A LIVE WEBCAST of the Winner's lecture on Thursday, 12 June will begin at 11.00 Eastern European Summer Time (UTC/GMT +3 hours). The link for this live webcast is: http://www.ecmedia.hut.fi/pr/millennium2008/

THE MILLENNIUM TECHNOLOGY PRIZE is Finland's tribute to life-enhancing technological innovation. The prize is awarded every second year for a technological innovation that significantly improves the quality of human life and encourages sustainable development. The world's biggest technology prize is awarded by Technology Academy Finland, an independent foundation established by Finnish industry in partnership with the Finnish state. The Laureates were selected by the Board of the Foundation on the basis of recommendations made by the International Selection Committee.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Dr. Tapio Alvesalo, Secretary General of the Technology Academy Finland, mobile +358 400 341 497, tapio.alvesalo(at)millenniumprize.fi

Petja Partanen, Communications Manager, mobile +358-40-5111 640, petja.partanen(at)millenniumprize.fi

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