1998 Lemelson-MIT Prize Winner
|Photo by Andrew Fingland
"A lot of times somebody will tell you that your idea,
or your invention, can't be done. I think that's very rarely true.
If you believe in yourself and if you really work hard and stick
to it, I believe there is very little that is impossible."
Dr. Robert Langer was awarded the 1998 Lemelson-MIT Prize for being
one of history's most prolific inventors in medicine. His breakthroughs
in controlled drug delivery have prolonged lives and eased the suffering
A trailblazer in biomaterials, Langer has evolved as the father
of tissue engineering, with innovations that have been used in such
areas as drug delivery systems, vaccines, tissue repair, diagnostics,
innovative waste disposal technologies and novel therapeutics.
Langer's research into polymers led to the slow release of micro-encapsulated
doses of ionic drugs, peptides and other large molecule drugs. He
is also credited with the development of many medicinal biodegradable
polymers, particularly Gliadel®, a polymer-based treatment that
dissolves over time to deliver chemotherapy to tumor sites in brain
In 1999, Langer created the pharmacy on a chip, an implantable
silicon chip that can determine and control the release of measured
doses of medicine and potentially replace medicinal injections and
ingesting pills in the future.
Langer and his team unveiled biorubber in 2002a polymer with
amazing elasticity for constructing artificial organs.
Currently the Germeshausen Professor of Chemical Engineering at
MIT, Langer has served as an inspiration and mentor to many MIT
graduate students and post-docs. He received his B.S. in Chemical
Engineering from Cornell University (1970) and his Sc.D. in Chemical
Engineering from MIT (1974), plus three honorary doctorates. Langer
is the only active member of all three United States National Academies
and has garnered over 80 awards and honors, including the $500,000
Charles Stark Draper Prize (2002) and the Gairdner Foundation International
Award (1996). He was recognized by Forbes Magazine as one
of the 25 most important individuals in biotechnology in the world
(1999), and Time Magazine has revered him as one of the 100
most important people in America (2001). To date, Langer has amassed
380 patents in the fields of biomedical and chemical engineering,
biomaterials and controlled drug delivery
and it all began
with a Gilbert Chemistry set he received as a young boy.
In 2006, Langer co-foundered T2 Biosystems, a
company that plans to revolutionize diagnostic medicine by providing immediate and
accurate testing for nearly any health condition, in nearly any setting.
The February 2008 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences details a
waterproof adhesive bandage that Langer led a team of scientists to invent. Inspired by
gecko lizards, this bandage has potential to be included as an operating room tool for
sealing surgical wounds or internal injuries.