David H. Koch Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Langer 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.
In 1998, he received theLemelson-MITprize, the world’s largest prize for invention for being “one of history’s most prolific inventors in medicine.” In 1989 Dr. Langer was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and in 1992 he was elected to both the National Academy of Engineering and to the National Academy of Sciences. He is one of very few people ever elected to all three United States National Academies and the youngest in history (at age 43) to ever receive this distinction.
He served as a member of the United States Food and Drug Administration’s SCIENCE Board, the FDA’s highest advisory board, from 1995–2002 and as its Chairman from 1999–2002.
Nowadays Robert S. Langer is the David H. Koch Institute Professor (there are 14 Institute Professors at MIT; being an Institute Professor is the highest honor that can be awarded to a faculty member). Dr. Langer has written nearly 1,130 articles. He also has approximately 800 issued and pending patents worldwide. Dr. Langer’s patents have been licensed or sublicensed to over 220 pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology and medical device companies. He is the most cited engineer in history.
Dr. Langer has received over 200 major awards including the 2006 United States National Medal of Science; the Charles Stark Draper Prize, considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for engineers, the 2008 Millennium Prize, the world’s largest technology prize and the 2012 Priestley Medal, the highest award of the American Chemical Society. He is the also the only engineer to receive the Gairdner Foundation International Award.
Forbes Magazine (1999) and Bio World (1990) have named Dr. Langer as one of the 25 most important individuals in biotechnology in the world. Discover Magazine (2002) named him as one of the 20 most important people in this area. Forbes Magazine (2002) selected Dr. Langer as one of the 15 innovators worldwide who will reinvent our future. Time Magazine and CNN (2001) named Dr. Langer as one of the 100 most important people in America and one of the 18 top people in science or medicine in America (America’s Best).
Langer is widely regarded for his contributions to medicine and the emerging fields of biotechnology. He is considered a pioneer of many new technologies, including transdermal delivery systems, which allow the administration of drugs or extraction of analyses from the body through the skin without needles or other invasive methods. He and the researchers in his lab have also made advances in tissue engineering, such as the creation of engineered blood vessels and vascularized engineered muscle tissue.