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Senior Inventors

Robert Langer

Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Robert S. Langer is one of 14 Institute Professors (the highest honor awarded to a faculty member) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Dr. Langer has written over 860 articles. He also has over 500 issued or pending patents worldwide, one of which was cited as the outstanding patent in Massachusetts in 1988 and one of 20 outstanding patents in the United States. Dr. Langer’s patents have been licensed or sublicensed to over 100 pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology and medical device companies; a number of these companies were launched on the basis of these patent licenses. 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.

Dr. Langer has received over 140 major awards. In 2002, he received the Charles Stark Draper Prize, considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for engineers and the world’s most prestigious engineering prize, from the National Academy of Engineering. He is the also the only engineer to receive the Gairdner Foundation International Award; 65 recipients of this award have subsequently received a Nobel Prize. Among numerous other awards Langer has received are the Dickson Prize for Science (2002), Heinz Award for Technology, Economy and Employment (2003), the Harvey Prize (2003), the John Fritz Award (2003) (given previously to inventors such as Thomas Edison and Orville Wright), the General Motors Kettering Prize for Cancer Research (2004), the Dan David Prize in Materials Science (2005) and the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research (2005), the largest prize in the U.S. for medical research. In 2006, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. In 1998, he received the Lemelson-MIT prize, 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.

Forbes Magazine (1999) and Bio World (1990) have named 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 Langer as one of the 15 innovators world wide who will reinvent our future. Time Magazine and CNN (2001) named Langer as one of the 100 most important people in America and one of the 18 top people in science or medicine in America. Parade Magazine (2004) selected Langer as one of 6 “Heroes whose research may save your life.” He has served, at various times, on 15 boards of directors and 30 Scientific Advisory Boards of such companies as Wyeth, Alkermes, Mitsubishi Pharmaceuticals, Warner-Lambert, and Momenta Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Langer has received honorary doctorates from the ETH (Switzerland), the Technion (Israel), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel), the Universite Catholique de Louvain (Belgium), the University of Liverpool (England), the University of Nottingham (England), Albany Medical College, the Pennsylvania State University, Northwestern University and Uppsala University (Sweden). He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Cornell University in 1970 and his Sc.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1974, both in Chemical Engineering.

Robert Langer