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Biomaterials and biotechnology: from the discovery of angiogenesis inhibitors to the development of drug delivery systems and the foundation of tissue engineering

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Robert S. Langer, Sc.D.
David H. Koch Institute Professor
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Langer’s work is at the interface of biotechnology and materials science. The major focus areas include the study and development of polymers to deliver drugs, particularly genetically engineered proteins, DNA and RNAi, continuously at controlled rates for prolonged periods of time. Dr. Langer has written more than 1,240 articles, and he also has 1,026 issued and pending patents worldwide. His many awards include the United States National Medal of Science, the United States National Medal of Technology and Innovation, 2014 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the Charles Stark Draper Prize, Albany Medical Center Prize, the Wolf Prize for Chemistry and the Lemelson-MIT prize, for being “one of history’s most prolific inventors in medicine.”


Advanced drug delivery systems are having an enormous impact on human health. Dr. Langer will begin the lecture by discussing his early research on developing the first controlled release systems for macromolecules and the isolation of angiogenesis inhibitors, noting how these advances have led to numerous new therapies. For example, new drug delivery technologies including nanoparticles and nanotechnology are now being studied for use treating cancer and other illnesses. Dr. Langer will next discuss ways of developing novel microchips for drug delivery, elucidating how approaches for creating new biomaterials are evaluated and providing examples where such materials are used in brain cancer and shape-memory applications. By combining mammalian cells, including stem cells, with synthetic polymers, new approaches for engineering tissues are being developed that may someday help in various disease, particularly in the fields of cartilage, skin, blood vessels, and spinal cord repair.

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