Robert S. Langer

For the Australian cricketer, see Rob Langer.
Robert Samuel Langer, Jr.
Born (1948-08-29) August 29, 1948
Albany, New York, U.S.
Residence United States
Fields Chemical Engineering
Institutions Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Alma mater Cornell University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Doctoral advisor Clark K. Colton
Other academic advisors Judah Folkman
Notable students Kristi Anseth, Elazer R. Edelman, David Edwards (engineer), Linda Griffith, Jeffrey Karp, Ali Khademhosseini, Cato Laurencin, Robert J. Linhardt, David J. Mooney, Molly Stevens, Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, David Berry, Isaac Berzin, Mark R. Prausnitz, Samir Mitragotri, Kathryn Uhrich, W. Mark Saltzman
Known for Controlled drug delivery and tissue engineering
Notable awards Gairdner Foundation International Award (1996)
Charles Stark Draper Prize (2002)
John Fritz Medal (2003)
Harvey Prize (2003)
Albany Medical Center Prize (2005)
National Medal of Science (2006)
Millennium Technology Prize (2008)
Prince of Asturias Award (2008)
National Medal of Technology and Innovation (2011)
Perkin Medal (2012)
Wilhelm Exner Medal (2012)
Priestley Medal (2012)
Wolf Prize in Chemistry (2013)
IRI Medal (2013)
Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2014)
Kyoto Prize (2014)
Biotechnology Heritage Award (2014)
FREng[1] (2010)
Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering (2015)
External video
Scientists You Must Know: Robert Langer, You want to put yourself in the position where you'll make the discoveries for tomorrow, Chemical Heritage Foundation
Hundreds of millions of people a year across the world benefit from the technologies that rest on the work of Robert Langer., Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering 2015

Robert Samuel Langer, Jr. FREng[1] (born August 29, 1948 in Albany, New York) is an American chemical engineer, scientist, entrepreneur, inventor and the David H. Koch Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[2] He was formerly the Germeshausen Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering and maintains activity in the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT. He is also a faculty member of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology and the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. He is a widely recognized and cited researcher in biotechnology, especially in the fields of drug delivery systems and tissue engineering. His publications have been cited approximately 200,000 times and his h-index is 224.[3] According to Google Scholar, Langer is one of the 10 most cited individuals in history.[4] Langer is recognized as the most cited engineer in history.[5] Langer's research laboratory at MIT is the largest biomedical engineering lab in the world, maintaining over $10 million in annual grants and over 100 researchers.[6] In 2015, Langer was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, the most influential prize in the world for engineering.[7][8][9]

Background and personal life

Langer was born August 29, 1948 in Albany, New York, USA. He is an alumnus of The Milne School and received his bachelor's degree from Cornell University in chemical engineering. He earned his Sc.D. in chemical engineering from MIT in 1974. His dissertation was entitled "Enzymatic regeneration of ATP" and completed under the direction of Clark K. Colton. From 1974–1977 he worked as a postdoctoral fellow for cancer researcher Judah Folkman at the Children's Hospital Boston and at Harvard Medical School. Langer credits Folkman as a fantastic role model.[10] Langer and his wife, Laura, a fellow MIT graduate, have three children.

Contributions to medicine and biotechnology

Langer is widely regarded for his contributions to medicine and biotechnology.[11] He is considered a pioneer of many new technologies, including controlled release systems and transdermal delivery systems, which allow the administration of drugs or extraction of analytes from the body through the skin without needles or other invasive methods.[12][13][14]

Langer worked with Judah Folkman at Boston Children's Hospital to isolate the first angiogenesis inhibitor, a macromolecule to block the spread of blood vessels in tumours.[11][15] Macromolecules tend to be broken down by digestion and blocked by body tissues if they are injected or inhaled, so finding a delivery system for them is difficult. Langer's idea was to encapsulate the angiogenesis inhibitor in a noninflammatory synthetic polymer wafer that could be implanted in the tumor and control the release of the inhibitor. He eventually invented polymer systems that would work. This discovery is considered to lay the foundation for much of today's drug delivery technology.[11][16]

He also worked with Henry Brem of the Johns Hopkins University Medical School on a drug-delivery system for the treatment of brain cancer, to deliver chemotherapy directly to a tumor site. The wafers or chips that he and his teams have designed have become increasingly more sophisticated, and can now deliver multiple drugs, and respond to stimuli.[17]

Langer is regarded as the founder of tissue engineering in regenerative medicine.[18] He and the researchers in his lab have made advances in tissue engineering, such as the creation of engineered blood vessels and vascularized engineered muscle tissue.[19][20] Bioengineered synthetic polymers provide a scaffolding on which new skin, muscle, bone, and entire organs can be grown. With such a substrate in place, victims of serious accidents or birth defects could more easily grow missing tissue.[17][21] Such polymers can be biocompatible and biodegradable.[22]

Langer holds more than 1100 granted or pending patents.[2][23] He has also authored over 1,300 scientific papers and has participated in the founding of multiple technology companies.

Awards and honors

Langer is the youngest person in history (at 43) to be elected to all three American science academies: the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine. He was also elected as a charter member of National Academy of Inventors.[24] He was appointed an International Fellow[1] of the Royal Academy of Engineering[1] in 2010.

Langer has received more than 220 major awards. He is one of four living individuals to have received both the U.S. National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.[25]

He has received numerous other awards, including the Gairdner Foundation International Award (1996),[43] the Lemelson-MIT Prize for invention and innovation (1998),[44] the Othmer Gold Medal (2002),[45] the 10th Annual Heinz Award in the category of Technology, the Economy and Employment (2003),[46][47] the Harvey Prize in Science & Technology and Human Health (2003),[46] the Dan David Prize (2005)[48] and the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research (2005).[49] In 2013 he was awarded the IRI Medal alongside long-time friend George M. Whitesides for outstanding accomplishments in technological innovation that have contributed broadly to the development of industry and the benefit of society.[50][51] He also received the Rusnano prize that year.[52] He has also given 126 named lectures and commencement speeches.

Langer has honorary degrees from 28 universities from around the world: Northwestern University, Harvard University, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Yale University, the ETH, the Technion, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel), the Universite Catholique de Louvain (Belgium), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Willamette University, the University of Liverpool, the University of Nottingham, Albany Medical College, Pennsylvania State University, Uppsala University, Bates College, Boston University, Tel Aviv University(Israel), Ben Gurion University (Israel), Drexel University, University of Western Ontario Canada, the University of Maryland, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Karolinska Institutet, Carnegie Mellon University, Hanyang University in South Korea, the University of New South Wales in Australia and the USCF Medal.

Founder of various biotech companies

Robert Langer has been involved in the founding of many companies, including:[53]

  • Acusphere
  • AIR
  • Arsenal
  • BIND Therapeutics (formerly BIND Biosciences)
  • Tarveda Therapeutics (formerly Blend Therapeutics)
  • Echo Therapeutics (formerly Sontra Medical)
  • Enzytech (Acq. by Alkermes)
  • Gecko Biomedical[54]
  • InVivo Therapeutics
  • Kala
  • Living Proof[55]
  • Microchips
  • Moderna
  • Momenta
  • PixarBio[56]
  • Pervasis (acquired by Shire Pharmaceuticals)[57]
  • Pulmatrix
  • Selecta Biosciences
  • Semprus Biosciences (acquired by Teleflex)[58]
  • Seventh Sense
  • SQZ Biotech[59]
  • Taris
  • Transform (acquired by Johnson and Johnson)[60]
  • T2

Langer is a member of the Advisory Board of Patient Innovation, a nonprofit, international, multilingual, free venue for patients and caregivers of any disease to share their innovations.[61]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "List of Fellows".
  2. 1 2 Hannah Seligson (November 24, 2012). "Hatching Ideas, and Companies, by the Dozens at M.I.T.". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-11-26. A chemical engineer by training, Dr. Langer has helped start 25 companies and has 811 patents, issued or pending, to his name. ...
  3. "Google Scholar: Robert Langer". Google Scholar. Google.
  4. "1040 Highly Cited Researchers (h>100) according to their Google Scholar Citations public profiles". Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  5. "The art of entrepreneurship".
  6. O'Neill, Kathryn M. (20 July 2006). "Colleagues honor Langer for 30 years of innovation". MIT News. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  7. 1 2 Shukman, David (3 February 2015). "Drug-delivery pioneer wins £1m engineering prize". BBC News Science & Environment. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  8. 1 2 "QEPrize Winner 2015 - Robert Langer". Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  9. "Engineering Polymath wins Major Award". Ingenia. UK: Royal Academy of Engineering (63): 14–19. June 2015.
  10. "Robert Langer BioTech Awards Video". Chemical Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
  11. 1 2 3 Pearson, Helen (4 March 2009). "Profile: Being Bob Langer". Nature. 458 (7234): 22–24. doi:10.1038/458022a. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  12. Mitragotri, S; Blankschtein, D; Langer, R (1995). "Ultrasound-mediated transdermal protein delivery". Science. 269 (5225): 850–3. doi:10.1126/science.7638603. PMID 7638603.
  13. Kost, J; Mitragotri, S; Gabbay, RA; Pishko, M; Langer, R (2000). "Transdermal monitoring of glucose and other analytes using ultrasound". Nature Medicine. 6 (3): 347–50. doi:10.1038/73213. PMID 10700240.
  14. Langer, Robert; Folkman, Judah (October 1976). "Polymers for the sustained release of proteins and other macromolecules". Nature. 263 (5580): 797–800. doi:10.1038/263797a0. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
  15. Cooke, Robert; Koop, C Everett (2001). Dr. Folkman's War: Angiogenesis and the Struggle to Defeat Cancer. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-375-50244-6.
  16. National Academy of Science report Beyond Discovery: Polymer and People 1999
  17. 1 2 "Robert S. Langer". Chemical Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  18. Schilling, David Russell (15 February 2013). "Langer Profile. Engineering Synthetic Skin". Industry Tap into News. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  19. Niklason, LE; Gao, J; Abbott, WM; Hirschi, KK; Houser, S; Marini, R; Langer, R (1999). "Functional arteries grown in vitro". Science. 284 (5413): 489–93. doi:10.1126/science.284.5413.489. PMID 10205057.
  20. Levenberg, S; Rouwkema, J; MacDonald, M; Garfein, ES; Kohane, DS; Darland, DC; Marini, R; Van Blitterswijk, CA; et al. (2005). "Engineering vascularized skeletal muscle tissue". Nature Biotechnology. 23 (7): 879–84. doi:10.1038/nbt1109. PMID 15965465.
  21. Vacanti, Joseph P; Langer, Robert (July 1999). "Tissue engineering: the design and fabrication of living replacement devices for surgical reconstruction and transplantation". The Lancet. 354: S32–S34. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(99)90247-7. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  22. Freed, Lisa E.; Vunjak-Novakovic, Gordana; Biron, Robert J.; Eagles, Dana B.; Lesnoy, Daniel C.; Barlow, Sandra K.; Langer, Robert (July 1994). "Biodegradable Polymer Scaffolds for Tissue Engineering". Bio/Technology. 12 (7): 689–693. doi:10.1038/nbt0794-689. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  23. "Langer Lab: Professor Robert Langer". MIT. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  24. Lowry, Judy (8 January 2013). "National Academy of Inventors congratulates NAI Fellows Robert Langer and Leroy Hood, and NAI Member James Wynne on receiving U.S. National Medals". USF Research News. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  25. 1 2 "Biotechnology Heritage Award". Chemical Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
  26. "The Scheele Symposium 2015". Läkemedelsakademin. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  27. "Entrepreneurship at Cornell". Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  28. "MIT biomedical engineer Robert Langer wins $500,000 Kyoto Prize".
  29. "Laureates: 2014". Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.
  30. Kaufman, Melanie Miller. "Robert Langer wins 2014 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences". MIT News. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  31. "Two MIT professors win prestigious Wolf Prize Michael Artin and Robert Langer honored for groundbreaking work in mathematics and chemistry.". MIT News. 4 January 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
  32. Landergan, Katherine (4 January 2013). "M.I.T. professor to be honored by President Obama". MIT. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  33. "Robert Langer Named Priestley Medalist". Chemical & Engineering News. 89 (24): 7. 2011.
  34. Editor, ÖGV. (2015). Wilhelm Exner Medal. Austrian Trade Association. ÖGV. Austria.
  35. "SCI Perkin Medal". Chemical Heritage Foundation. 23 May 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  36. "Biopolymer innovator Robert Langer receives 2012 Perkin Medal". SCI. 8 Nov 2012. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  37. "2011 recipients". Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  38. "And the winners were…". The Economist. 3 December 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  39. Lau, Thomas (11 June 2008). "2008 Millennium Technology Prize Awarded to Professor Robert Langer for Intelligent Drug Delivery". European Science Foundation. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  41. "Max Planck Research Award". Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  42. "Robert S. Langer Receives 2002 Charles Stark Draper Prize from National Academy of Engineering". Journal of Investigative Medicine. 50 (03): 159. 2002. doi:10.2310/6650.2002.33415. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
  43. "R.S. Langer to receive 1996 Gairdner Award". MIT News. 24 January 1996. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
  44. "Half Million Dollar Lemelson-MIT Prize Winner Announced". Lemelson-MIT. 15 April 1998. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
  45. "Past Winners of the Othmer Gold Medal". Chemical Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  46. 1 2 "MIT's Langer wins two prestigious prizes". MIT News. 2 December 2003. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
  47. "Robert Langer". The Heinz Awards. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  48. "Laureates 2005: Robert Langer". Dan David Prize. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  49. McGarry, Greg (29 April 2005). "MIT Researcher and Albany Native Who Pioneered New Methods for Drug Delivery Named Recipient of America's Top Prize in Medicine". Albany Medical Center. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
  50. Wang, Linda (28 May 2013). "Industrial Research Institute Medal Awarded To Robert S. Langer And George M. Whitesides". Chemical & Engineering News. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
  51. "IRI to recognize George Whitesides, Robert Langer with top award". R&D Magazine. 17 April 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
  52. "Langer receives 2013 Rusnano prize". Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  53. Huang, Gregory T. (19 April 2011). "The Bob Langer and Polaris Family Tree: From Acusphere to Momenta to Visterra". Xconomy. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  54. Farrell, Michael B. (10 December 2013). "MIT's Robert Langer has another startup". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  55. Jones, Vanessa E. (2 April 2009). "Call him the frizz fighter". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  56. "TEDxBigApple – Robert Langer Biomaterials for the 21st Century". Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  57. "Shire picks up Pervasis in potential $200M deal". Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  58. "Semprus BioSciences Acquired by Teleflex for Up To $80M in Cash, Milestones". Retrieved 10 June 2014.
  59. "SQZ Biotech - Board of Directors". Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  60. "Johnson & Johnson Completes Acquisition of TransForm Pharmaceuticals, Inc.". Retrieved 10 June 2014.
Preceded by
Shuji Nakamura
Millennium Technology Prize winner
2008 (for Innovative biomaterials)
Succeeded by
Michael Grätzel
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