Nano-based drugs, Precision medicine
"So many times when you try to do something in science, or to try to invent something, people will tell you it's impossible, that it will never work. But I think that's very rarely so. I think if you really believe in yourself, if you really stick to things, there's very little that's truly impossible."
- Adapted from Dr. Langer's 1998 Lemelson Award speech
The Langer Laboratory works at the interface of biotechnology and materials science to address a wide range of problems in human health, including the detection, monitoring, and treatment of cancer. A major focus is the study and development of materials such as polymers and lipids to deliver drugs, particularly genetically engineered proteins and DNA and RNA, continuously at controlled rates for prolonged periods of time. In addition, we are developing drugs that specifically inhibit the process of neovascularization that is critical to several disease processes, including cancer, without interfering with existing blood vessels. We have also been involved in creating approaches to engineer new tissues. In particular, we are synthesizing new systems to be used in mammalian cell transplants to create liver, cartilage, pancreas, and nerves. Finally, we are developing new approaches to improve health in the developing world including new methods of vaccination and providing better nutrition.
Robert Langer is one of nine Institute Professors at MIT; being an Institute Professor is the highest honor that can be awarded to a faculty member. He has written over 1,500 articles, which have been cited over 396,000 times; his h-index of 313 is the highest of any engineer in history and the 2nd highest of any individual in any field. His patents have licensed or sublicensed to over 400 companies; he is a cofounder of a number of companies including Moderna. Dr Langer served as Chairman of the FDA’s Science Board (its highest advisory board) from 1999-2002. His over 220 awards include both the United States National Medal of Science and the United States National Medal of Technology and Innovation (he is one of 3 living individuals to have received both these honors), the Charles Stark Draper Prize (often called the Engineering Nobel Prize), Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, Albany Medical Center Prize, Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, Kyoto Prize, Wolf Prize for Chemistry, Millennium Technology Prize, Priestley Medal (highest award of the American Chemical Society), Gairdner Prize, Hoover Medal, Dreyfus Prize in Chemical Sciences, BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Biomedicine, and the Balzan Prize. He holds 41 honorary doctorates, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Northwestern, and has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Inventors.
Langer is a co-founder of a number of companies and serves (or has served) as a member of the Board of Directors of many entities, including Moderna, Living Proof, Alkermes, PureTech, Momenta, and Seer. Please see Harvard Business Review (paywall) for further discussion. Download a PDF for a complete listing .