MIT Scientist Langer Wins Major Technology Award

HELSINKI (Reuters)- U.S. engineer Robert Langer was on Wednesday named the winner of the800,000 euro ($1.2 million) Millennium Technology Prize, funded by theFinnish state and industry.

Langer, an Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute ofTechnology (MIT), was awarded the prize for his invention anddevelopment of innovative biomaterials for controlled drug release andtissue regeneration, the Helsinki-based Millennium Prize Foundationsaid.

The biennial prize is awarded for a specific and groundbreakinginnovation that has a favorable impact on the quality of life and humanwellbeing, now and in the future.

"Professor Robert Langer’s innovations have had a significant impactin fighting cancer, heart disease and numerous other diseases," thefoundation said.

His major focus is the study and development of polymers to deliverdrugs, particularly genetically engineered proteins, DNA and RNAi.

"Tissue engineering holds the promise of creating virtually any new tissue or organ," Langer said on Wednesday.

Langer is the third winner of the Millennium Prize, awarded for thefirst time in 2004 to Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web.

Finland hopes the Millennium award will eventually achieve similarrecognition and status to the Nobel prize, awarded in Sweden and Norway.

(Reporting by Sami Torma; Editing by Catherine Evans)