The National Academy of Engineering has announced that Yuan-Cheng "Bert" Fung will receive the 2007 Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize, a $500,000 award recognizing engineering achievement that significantly improves the human condition. Fung, a professor emeritus of bioengineering at UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering, was acknowledged "for the characterization and modeling of human tissue mechanics and function leading to prevention and mitigation of trauma."
Previous recipients include inventors of the first human heart pacemakers, kidney dialysis, and biosensors that enable open heart surgery and diabetes patients to self-monitor glucose levels.
"I was very surprised and very proud that such a great prize would come my way," Fung said. Fung's research is the basis for the entire field of automotive safety design all automobile crash tests today rely on his fundamental studies about tissue response. "Since the widespread application of quantitative biomechanics into motor vehicle restraint systems design in the early 1980s, we have experienced about a 30 percent reduction in motor vehicle fatalities," said Robert C. Lange, executive director of structure and safety integration for General Motors.
Fung is widely known as the "father of modern biomechanics" for pioneering the application of quantitative and analytical engineering principles to the study of the human body and disease. Fung's accomplishments and insights have directly contributed to designs, inventions, and applications that save lives, mitigate the severity of soft tissue injury, enhance the recovery and functionality of injured soft tissue, and improve the effectiveness and longevity of prosthetic orthopedic devices. His research contributed to the development of artificial skin, which has accelerated healing for millions of people with burns and other tissue trauma.