Convergence of Engineering with Quality of Life for Everyone: Fourth Industrial Revolution and Sustainable Development Goals

Main Article Content

Article Sidebar

Published Oct 10, 2021
Larry A. Nagahara


The 20th century brought us the ‘Digital Revolution’ – the Third Industrial Revolution – that transformed our everyday lives through the introduction and use of innovative technologies such as cell phones, computers, internet, etc.  In the area of healthcare, a similar transformation occurred by way of medical imaging (e.g., magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT)) and the development of antibiotics (e.g., penicillin).  While these two examples in medicine produced tremendous impact, the benefits are seen as ‘reactive-centric’ medicine – wait for the disease/symptom to present itself first and then resolve it.  Unfortunately, the root cause of many diseases (e.g., Alzheimer) is not known or very early detection (e.g., cancer) is not possible and thus requires alternate approaches and novel technologies that enable a more ‘dynamic’ resolution to the current reactive practice. 


The 21th Century will bring the Fourth Industrial Revolution that will integrate advances in artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoTs), robotics, and genetic engineering to name a few.  As a result, there is an ongoing shift in healthcare to go from being ‘reactive’ to being more ‘preventive’ – where maximizing prevention occurs by identifying and treating the root cause of the disease.  Dynamic approaches are common concepts in engineering and lend itself well to being incorporated not only in healthcare but with many of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  New paradigms are necessary for these novel concepts and practices to be accepted and ultimately adopted.  In this talk, examples of blending systems level perspective will be presented to illustrate that fostering the development of innovating and promising approaches could lead to a paradigm shift in the way we understand and ultimately and treat various types of diseases but also improve the overall quality of life for everyone.




Dr. Larry Nagahara is currently the Associate Dean for Research in the Whiting School of Engineering (WSE) and Research Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Johns Hopkins University (JHU).  Previously, he was the Associate Director within the Division of Cancer Biology at National Cancer Institute (NCI)/National Institutes of Health (NIH), where he directed and coordinated programs and research activities related to expanding the role of the physical sciences and engineering in cancer research.  This included the largest federally-funded program dedicated to the convergence of physical and life sciences, namely the NCI’s Physical Sciences–Oncology Initiative.  In addition, Dr. Nagahara served as the Nanotechnology Projects Manager for the NCI's Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer program.  Before joining NCI, Dr. Nagahara was a Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff at Motorola and led their nanosensor effort.  He has published over 100 technical papers, 3 book chapters, and over 25 patents issued/filed in these fields.  He is currently the Vice Chair of the Electrochemical Society (ECS) Sensor Division and Past Chair of the American Physical Society (APS) Topical Group on Medical Physics (GMED).  Dr. Nagahara is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), APS, ECS, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Materials Research Society (MRS), and a former member of Motorola's Scientific Advisory Board.

How to Cite

Nagahara, L. A. (2021). Convergence of Engineering with Quality of Life for Everyone: Fourth Industrial Revolution and Sustainable Development Goals. SPAST Abstracts, 1(01). Retrieved from
Abstract 39 |

Article Details

A01: Plenary