Robert Samuel Langer
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Election Year: 1992
Primary Section: 29, Biophysics and Computational Biology
Secondary Section: 14, Chemistry
Membership Type: Member
As a chemical and biomedical engineer, I have studied the development and use of biomaterials for biomedical purposes. One major area of interest has been the development of controlled release polymers that can slowly release macromolecules such as peptides, proteins, or polynucleic acids. Another major area of interest in our laboratory is the creation of new biomaterials. We have tried to change a fundamental paradigm in materials science. Before our research, most materials used in medicine were off-the-shelf materials. For instance, the materials used in an artificial heart were from a lady's girdle. We have been attempting to synthesize materials by asking what the desired biological, chemical, and engineering properties required are and then synthesizing materials with the necessary characteristics. One such material has led to a new treatment for brain cancer. We are also studying how to deliver drugs across complex barriers such as the skin. Another research area involves combining materials with cells to create new tissues. Other areas of interest involve the application of enzymes such as heparinase to create new enzyme-based therapies as well as the study and isolation of novel angiogenesis inhibitors.