Dr. Robert Langer
Dr. Robert Langer Founders Award
David H. Koch Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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  • Founders
Awards
Simon Ramo Founders Award
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Biography

Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor, is one of only 14 Institute Professors (the highest honor for a faculty member) at MIT. With more than 1,100 articles and more than 750 issued and pending patents worldwide to his credit, Dr. Langer is one of the most celebrated and important engineers of his time.

Dr. Langer developed the first approach with biocompatible polymers for the controlled release of macromolecules, isolated the first angiogenesis inhibitor, and pioneered the field of tissue engineering. He also isolated and cloned the key enzymes responsible for polysaccharide sequencing. More than 500 students and postdocs who studied under Dr. Langer hold key positions in academia, industry, and government.

From 1995 to 2002 Dr. Langer was a member of the Food and Drug Administration SCIENCE Board, the highest FDA advisory board; he was chair of the board from 1995–2002. He has received more than 180 major awards in his long and varied career, including the 2006 U.S. National Medal of Science; the 2002 Charles Stark Draper Prize (considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for engineers), and the 2008 Millennium Prize. Dr. Langer is the only engineer ever awarded the Gairdner Foundation International Award; 72 recipients of this award subsequently received Nobel Prizes. Among Dr. Langer’s other awards are the Dickson Prize for Science (2002), the Heinz Award for Technology, Economy and Employment (2003), the Harvey Prize (2003), the John Fritz Award (2003) (previously to Thomas Edison, Orville Wright, and other inventors), 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).  He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2006, and received the Max Planck Research Award and Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research, both in 2008. 

In 1998, Dr. Langer received the Lemelson-MIT Prize, which is awarded to “history’s most prolific inventors in medicine.” In 1989, he was elected a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, and in 1992, at the age of only 43, he was elected a member of both the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences. He is the youngest of the select few who have ever been elected members of all three of the National Academies. 

Forbes Magazine (1999), Bio World (1990), and Discover Magazine (2002) have named Dr. Langer one of the most important individuals in biotechnology in the world. In addition, Forbes Magazine (2002) named him one of the 15 innovators worldwide “who will reinvent our future.” Time Magazine and CNN (2001)both included him in their lists of the  100 most important people in America and one of the 18 most important in science or medicine in America (America’s Best).  In 2004, Parade Magazine (2004) honored him as one of 6 “Heroes whose research may save your life.” Dr. Langer has received honorary doctorates from Harvard University, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, Yale University, ETH (Switzerland), The Technion (Israel), Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel), Universite Catholique de Louvain (Belgium), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Willamette University, University of Liverpool (England), University of Nottingham (England), Albany Medical College, Pennsylvania State University, Northwestern University, and Uppsala University (Sweden),

He received his B.S. from Cornell University in 1970 and his Sc.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1974, both in chemical engineering.

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Awards
  • Founders
  • 2010
  • For the invention, development, and commercialization of methods and materials for drug delivery and tissue engineering, mentoring of your scientists, and the promotion of the nation’s health.