Robert Langer wins 2019 Dreyfus Prize for Chemistry in Support of Human Health

Institute professor is honored for transformative work in drug delivery and tissue engineering.

Institute Professor Robert Langer

Institute Professor Robert Langer

Photo courtesy of the Department of Chemical Engineering

Robert S. Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT, has been awarded the 2019 Dreyfus Prize for Chemistry in Support of Human Health. The biennial prize includes a $250,000 award; an award ceremony will be held at MIT on Sept. 26 and will include a lecture by Langer.

Langer is honored for “discoveries and inventions of materials for drug delivery systems and tissue engineering that have had a transformative impact on human health through chemistry.” The citation explains that “the drug delivery technologies that he invented have been lauded as the cornerstone of that industry, positively impacting hundreds of millions of people worldwide. The impact and influence of his work is vast, and his papers have been cited in scientific publications more than any other engineer in history.”

Langer has written more than 1,400 articles and has over 1,350 issued and pending patents worldwide. His patents have been licensed or sublicensed to over 400 pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology, and medical device companies. He is one of four living individuals to have received both the National Medal of Science (2006) and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation (2011), both bestowed by the president of the United States. He has received over 220 major awards, including the 1998 Lemelson-MIT Prize, the world’s largest prize for invention, for being “one of history’s most prolific inventors in medicine.”

“Bob Langer created two rich fields at the intersection of chemistry and medicine: controlled release materials for delivery of therapeutic macromolecules and tissue engineering,” states Matthew Tirrell, chair of the Dreyfus Foundation Scientific Affairs Committee and Director of the Institute for Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago. “His discoveries have been translated, often by Langer himself, to many products that profoundly impact human health. In a diverse field of chemists and chemical engineers with many powerful contributors, the enormous body and influence of Bob Langer’s work stands out in a singular way.”

The Dreyfus Prize in the Chemical Sciences, initiated in 2009, is conferred in a specific area of chemistry in each cycle. It is the highest honor of the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. The foundation was established in 1946 by chemist, inventor, and businessman Camille Dreyfus, with the mission to advance the science of chemistry, chemical engineering, and related sciences as a means of improving human relations and circumstances throughout the world.

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