The Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize is a $500,000 award for groundbreaking contributions to the field of bioengineering. This year, Y.C. Fung, who’s vast collection of honors includes the President’s National Medal of Science, is the award recipient. He pretty much created the field of biomechanics, and revolutionized the way people looked at tissue trauma. Here is a clip of a good synopsis of this man’s incredible contributions from Medical News Today:
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.
…Comparable to the Nobel Prize, the biennial award was created by the late Fritz Russ, a 1942 electrical engineering graduate of Ohio University, with his wife, Dolores. The Russes established the prize in 1999 with a multimillion-dollar endowment to Ohio University to honor the engineering profession and to attract more individuals to the field.
Fung became interested in the mechanics of the human body after spending 20 years making significant contributions in aeronautics. In the early 1960s, while still a professor at the California Institute of Technology, he began applying his understanding of stress and strain to the study of blood vessels and cells. In 1966, Fung joined UCSD to establish one of the first bioengineering programs in the country and to fully devote himself to studying the mechanical aspects of the body.
Fung’s theories on the mechanical properties and functions of blood cells and capillary blood vessels have led our understanding of microcirculation, endothelial biology, and atherosclerosis. His “sheet-flow” theory provided a quantitative description of pulmonary circulation, hypertension, edema, and respiratory distress syndrome. Problems related to severe thorax impact injuries have been solved by Fung’s “stress wave propagation” theory.