Robert S. Langer
Robert S. Langer, one of 13 Institute Professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the highest honor awarded to a faculty member at MIT, has revolutionized biomedical technology through the development of a controlled drug delivery system. The biomedical research pioneer will discuss the latest developments in biomaterials and tissue engineering research as keynote speaker of the Allen and Constance Ford Distinguished Lecture Series at Case Western Reserve University.
Langer's lecture will be held on Thursday, April 5 at 4 p.m., at the Iris S. and Bert L. Wolstein Building auditorium, 2103 Cornell Road. He will speak on "Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering: Progress and Future Perspectives" and will discuss the design of new materials in particular—synthetic polymers with specific ligands attached to them, shape memory degradable polymers and materials with reversibly switching surfaces that may have applications in these areas. He will also examine the use of materials coupled with human embryonic stem cells and other cells, and the application of these approaches to the creation of new tissues.
Langer's contributions to medicine and the emerging fields of biotechnology are highly recognized and respected around the world. He is considered a pioneer of many new technologies, including transdermal drug delivery systems, which allow drugs to be delivered through the skin without needles or other invasive methods. His research laboratory at MIT is the largest biomedical engineering lab in the world, maintaining about $6 million in annual grants and more than 100 researchers. He and the researchers in his lab at MIT have also made significant advances in tissue engineering, such as the creation of vascularized engineered muscle tissue and engineered blood vessels.
High throughput nanoliter scale
synthesis and screening of
biomaterials with stem cells
"We're especially pleased that a researcher and educator of Robert Langer's caliber and distinction will be meeting with our students, faculty and staff," said James P. Basilion, associate professor of radiology and biomedical engineering at Case and coordinator of the Ford Distinguished Lecture. "He has unique vision, knowledge and experience, not only with pure scientific discovery, but also with the hands-on process of bringing practical innovations to life."
After earning his doctorate at MIT in 1974, Langer began developing a system for delivering inhibitors to cancerous tumors. He discovered a way to control the delivery of large molecule drugs by using both nondegradable and biodegradable polymers to engineer synthetic materials that allow for precisely-timed chemical release.
Langer has made numerous improvements on his controlled delivery system. Designing a chemotherapy wafer for the treatment of brain cancer, he was able to administer slow releasing cancer-killing medication directly where the cancerous tumor had been removed. He also pioneered a variety of remotely controlled drug delivery systems that vary the amount of drug released through electric impulse, ultrasound and magnetic field.
Holder of more than 550 granted or pending patents, Langer's controlled drug delivery innovations are the basis of a multibillion dollar industry in the United States. An Institute Professor at MIT, Langer was recognized in 1998 with the Lemelson-MIT Prize, being cited as one of history's most prolific inventors in medicine. Time Magazine and CNN in 2001 named him one of the world's 100 most important people, and Forbes Magazine and Bio World have named him one of the 25 most important individuals in biotechnology in the world. In 2002, the National Academy of Engineering awarded him the Charles Stark Draper Prize, considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for engineers.
Allen and Constance Ford established the Ford Visiting Professor Program at Case Western Reserve University to enhance and highlight the programming of the biomedical engineering department. As an internationally recognized program, the biomedical engineering department is a jewel in the crown of Case Western Reserve University. The Ford Visiting Professor Program at Case has enabled biomedical engineering program to bring to campus—to our students, faculty and university community—scientists and business leaders on the cutting edge of biomedical engineering and related sciences. This important program provides annual funding to seek out and bring to Case innovation leaders in the area of biomedical engineering, allowing them to get to know Case, while the Case community comes to know them.
Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.