Robert Samuel Langer, Jr.
Langer in 2008
Born (1948-08-29) August 29, 1948 (age 75)
Albany, New York, United States
Other namesBob Langer[2]
Alma materCornell University (BSc)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (ScD)
Known forControlled drug delivery and tissue engineering
AwardsGairdner Foundation International Award (1996)
Charles Stark Draper Prize (2002)
John Fritz Medal (2003)
Harvey Prize (2003)
Heinz Award (2004)
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)
Kabiller Prize in Nanoscience and Nanomedicine (2017)
Medal of Science (Portugal) (2020)
BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards (2021)
Balzan Prize (2022)
Janssen Award (2023)
Kavli Prize in Nanoscience (2024)
Scientific career
FieldsChemical Engineering
InstitutionsMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Doctoral advisorClark K. Colton
Other academic advisorsJudah Folkman
Doctoral studentsW. Mark Saltzman, Erin Lavik, Steven R. Little, Elazer R. Edelman, David J. Mooney, Samir Mitragotri, Mark Prausnitz, Ali Khademhosseini
Other notable studentsRonald A. Siegel, Kristi Anseth, David Edwards (engineer), Jennifer Elisseeff, Omid Cameron Farokhzad, Linda Griffith, Guadalupe Hayes-Mota, Jeffrey Karp, Cato Laurencin, Christine E. Schmidt, Robert J. Linhardt, Antonios Mikos, Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, David Berry, Isaac Berzin, Kathryn Uhrich, Joseph Kost, Akhilesh K. Gaharwar, Molly Stevens, Princess Imoukhuede, Guillermo Ameer, Canan Dağdeviren, Laura Niklason, María José Alonso, Jennifer Elisseeff, Kaitlyn Sadtler, Shiva Ayyadurai
External videos
video icon Scientists You Must Know: Robert Langer, You want to put yourself in the position where you'll make the discoveries for tomorrow, Science History Institute
video icon 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) is an American biotechnologist, businessman, chemical engineer, chemist, and inventor. He is one of the nine Institute Professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[3]

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 Program in Health Sciences and Technology and the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.

Langer holds over 1,400 granted or pending patents.[4] He is one of the world's most highly cited researchers and his h-index is now (according to Google Scholar, 2023-09-16) 323 with currently over 427,000 citations.[5] He is a widely recognized and cited researcher in biotechnology, especially in the fields of drug delivery systems and tissue engineering.[4][6][7]

He is the most cited engineer in history[8] and one of the 10 most cited individuals in any field,[9] having authored over 1,500 scientific papers. Langer is also a prolific businessman, having been behind the participation in the founding of over 40 biotechnology companies including the well-known American pharmaceutical company, Moderna.

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.[10] He has been awarded numerous leading prizes in recognition of his work.

Background and personal life

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Langer was born August 29, 1948, in Albany, New York.

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 Massachusetts Institute of Technology 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 at the Children's Hospital Boston and at Harvard Medical School under Judah Folkman.[11]

Contributions to medicine and biotechnology

Langer is widely regarded for his contributions to medicine and biotechnology.[12] 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.[13][14][15]

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 tumors.[12][16] 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 system 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.[12][17]

Langer 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 wafer implants that he and his teams have designed have become increasingly more sophisticated, and can now deliver multiple drugs, and respond to stimuli.[18] In 2019, he and his team developed and patented a technique whereby microneedle tattoo patches could be used to label people with invisible ink to store medical information subcutaneously. This was presented as a boon to "developing nations" where lack of infrastructure means an absence of medical records.[19][20] The technology uses a "quantum dot dye that is delivered, along with a vaccine, by a microneedle patch."[19]

Langer is regarded as the founder of tissue engineering in regenerative medicine.[21] 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.[22][23] 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.[18][24] Such polymers can be biocompatible and biodegradable.[25]

Langer is involved in several projects related to diabetes.[26] Alongside Daniel G. Anderson, he has contributed bioengineering work to a project involving teams from MIT, Harvard University and other institutions, to produce an implantable device to treat type 1 diabetes by shielding insulin-producing beta cells from immune system attacks.[27][28] He is also part of a team at MIT that have developed a drug capsule that could be used to deliver oral doses of insulin to people with type 1 diabetes.[29][30]

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 National Academy of Medicine. He was also elected as a charter member of National Academy of Inventors.[31] He was elected as 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 three living individuals to have received both the U.S. National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.[32]

He has received numerous other awards, including the 10th Annual Heinz Award in the category of Technology, the Economy and Employment (2003),[38][75] 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.[76][77] He also received the Rusnano prize that year.[78]

Langer has honorary degrees from 42 universities from around the world including Harvard, Yale, and Columbia University.[79]

Business ventures

Langer has been involved in the founding of many companies,[80] more than twenty in partnership with the venture capital firm Polaris Partners.[2] Success of these companies and Langer's contribution has been detailed by Harvard Business Review:[81]

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.[89] He is also a member of the Xconomists, an ad hoc team of editorial advisors for the tech news and media company, Xconomy.[90]


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  2. ^ a b c d Mcguire, Terry (July 1, 2019). "The Many Shades Of VC/Repeat Entrepreneur Relationships". Life Science Leader. Pennsylvania, United States: VertMarkets.
  3. ^ Seligson, Hannah (November 24, 2012). "Hatching Ideas, and Companies, by the Dozens at M.I.T." New York Times. Retrieved November 26, 2012. A chemical engineer by training, Dr. Langer has helped start 25 companies and has 811 patents, issued or pending, to his name. ...
  4. ^ a b Robert S. Langer publications indexed by Google Scholar Edit this at Wikidata
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  6. ^ "1040 Highly Cited Researchers (h>100) according to their Google Scholar Citations public profiles". Retrieved May 25, 2016.
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  9. ^ "Highly Cited Researchers – 2024". World Scientist and University Rankings – AD Scientific Index 2024.
  10. ^ O'Neill, Kathryn M. (July 20, 2006). "Colleagues honor Langer for 30 years of innovation". MIT News. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
  11. ^ "Robert S. Langer, Sc.D." Academy of Achievement.
  12. ^ a b c Pearson, Helen (March 4, 2009). "Profile: Being Bob Langer". Nature. 458 (7234): 22–24. doi:10.1038/458022a. PMID 19262647.
  13. ^ Mitragotri, S; Blankschtein, D; Langer, R (1995). "Ultrasound-mediated transdermal protein delivery". Science. 269 (5225): 850–3. Bibcode:1995Sci...269..850M. doi:10.1126/science.7638603. PMID 7638603. S2CID 26069484.
  14. ^ 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. S2CID 31949252.
  15. ^ Langer, Robert; Folkman, Judah (October 1976). "Polymers for the sustained release of proteins and other macromolecules". Nature. 263 (5580): 797–800. Bibcode:1976Natur.263..797L. doi:10.1038/263797a0. PMID 995197. S2CID 4210402.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ National Academy of Science report Beyond Discovery: Polymer and People 1999
  18. ^ a b "Robert S. Langer". Science History Institute. June 2016. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
  19. ^ a b Trafton, Anne (December 18, 2019). "Storing medical information below the skin's surface". MIT News.
  20. ^ Jaklenec, Ana; McHugh, Kevin J.; Langer, Robert S. "Microneedle tattoo patches and use thereof". No. US20190015650A1. US Patent and Trademark Office.
  21. ^ Schilling, David Russell (February 15, 2013). "Langer Profile. Engineering Synthetic Skin". Industry Tap into News. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
  22. ^ 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. Bibcode:1999Sci...284..489N. doi:10.1126/science.284.5413.489. PMID 10205057.
  23. ^ 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" (PDF). Nature Biotechnology. 23 (7): 879–84. doi:10.1038/nbt1109. PMID 15965465. S2CID 28136064.
  24. ^ 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. PMID 10437854. S2CID 33614316. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
  25. ^ 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. PMID 7764913. S2CID 22968473.
  26. ^ Schaffer, Amanda. "Engineering Drug Delivery and Tissue Growth". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  27. ^ "Potential diabetes treatment advances". Harvard Gazette. January 25, 2016. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  28. ^ Anderson, Daniel G.; Langer, Robert; Melton, Douglas A.; Weir, Gordon C.; Greiner, Dale L.; Oberholzer, Jose; Hollister-Lock, Jennifer; Bochenek, Matthew A.; McGarrigle, James J. (January 25, 2016). "Long-term glycemic control using polymer-encapsulated human stem cell–derived beta cells in immune-competent mice". Nature Medicine. 22 (3): 306–311. doi:10.1038/nm.4030. ISSN 1546-170X. PMC 4825868. PMID 26808346.
  29. ^ "New pill can deliver insulin". MIT News. February 7, 2019. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  30. ^ "Researchers develop a drug capsule that could be used to deliver oral doses of insulin". TechGenYZ. February 9, 2019. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  31. ^ Lowry, Judy (January 8, 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 February 6, 2014.
  32. ^ a b "Biotechnology Heritage Award". Science History Institute. May 31, 2016. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  33. ^ "R.S. Langer to receive 1996 Gairdner Award". MIT News. January 24, 1996. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  34. ^ "Half Million Dollar Lemelson-MIT Prize Winner Announced". Lemelson-MIT. April 15, 1998. Archived from the original on March 6, 2003. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
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  36. ^ "Robert S. Langer Receives 2002 Charles Stark Draper Prize from National Academy of Engineering". Journal of Investigative Medicine. 50 (3): 159–160. 2002. doi:10.2310/6650.2002.33415. S2CID 219540335.
  37. ^ "Robert S. Langer, Sc.D. Biography and Interview". American Academy of Achievement.
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  39. ^ "Laureates 2005: Robert Langer". Dan David Prize. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
  40. ^ McGarry, Greg (April 29, 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 February 5, 2014.
  41. ^ National Medal of Science 2006
  42. ^ "Max Planck Research Award". Archived from the original on May 2, 2015. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  44. ^ Lau, Thomas (June 11, 2008). "2008 Millennium Technology Prize Awarded to Professor Robert Langer for Intelligent Drug Delivery". European Science Foundation. Archived from the original on February 21, 2014. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
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  50. ^ Editor, ÖGV. (2015). Wilhelm Exner Medal. Austrian Trade Association. ÖGV. Austria.
  51. ^ Ritter, Steve (2011). "Robert Langer Named Priestley Medalist". Chemical & Engineering News. 89 (24): 7. doi:10.1021/cen-v089n024.p007.
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  71. ^ "Maurice-Marie JANOT Award – APGI". Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  72. ^ BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards 2021
  73. ^ "I vincitori dei Premi Balzan 2022". September 12, 2022.
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  89. ^ "Who we are | Patient Innovation". March 26, 2014.
  90. ^ "About Our Mission, Team, and Editorial Ethics". Xconomy. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
Awards Preceded byShuji Nakamura Millennium Technology Prize winner 2008 (for Innovative biomaterials) Succeeded byMichael Grätzel