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Langer honored for achievements in biomedical engineering

David H. Koch Institute Professor Robert S. Langer
David H. Koch Institute Professor Robert S. Langer
Photo: Stu Rosner

Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT, who has enabled the creation of artificial skin now used for burn victims and skin-ulcer patients and whose work may someday enable the creation of new vocal cords, is the winner of this year’s Innovation Award in the category of bioscience. The Innovation Awards, given by The Economist, are now in their 10th year.

The award, sponsored by Astellas Pharma Europe Ltd., recognizes Langer’s success as one of the world’s most prolific and creative biomedical engineers, with more than 800 issued and pending patents worldwide. Langer is a pioneer in the application of engineering principles to biology, notably in the fields of controlled drug delivery and tissue engineering. He heads the largest biomedical engineering laboratory in the world, employing more than 100 researchers.

His many innovations include the invention of polymer-based delivery systems — which allow for the controlled administration of drugs and hormones over a long period and are used by tens of millions of people each year — and the development of polymers on which replacement tissue or organs can be grown.

Tom Standage, digital editor at The Economist and chairman of the panel of 29 judges, said, “Robert Langer is one of the most innovative and influential biomedical engineers of our time. His proven successes in drug delivery and tissue engineering have made possible new forms of medication and treatment. He is a worthy recipient of our bioscience award.”

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