Photo of Robert S. Langer

Robert S. Langer

  • National Medal of Science
  • Engineering

For his revolutionary discoveries in the areas of polymeric controlled release systems and tissue engineering and synthesis of new materials that have led to new medical treatments that have profoundly affected the well being of mankind.

Robert Langer on what advise he would give to his 9 year old self

He’s been called, “a conductor of a great symphony.” Of chemical engineering, that is.

Robert S. Langer, Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, faced patent rejection five times before becoming the official inventor of controlled release for brain cancer treatments. Products based on the principles Langer developed have since been used to treat alcoholism, narcotic addiction, diabetes and other diseases.

Langer found research success by tapping smaller, hyper-focused enterprises to advance his ideas in the marketplace that have since become pharmaceutical giants.

“Do great science. Don’t sacrifice publishing good science to be secretive. Then go to the next step and patent them, and do licensing and start companies. Create things that could change the world and make it a better place,” Langer told Science Magazine.

Taking his experience, Langer encourages students as “both scientists and entrepreneurs” to pursue research breakthroughs by creating their own startups, with proceeds returning to MIT.

Langer, who broke into chemistry at 11 through magic tricks, is now known for bringing his research to the masses with 1,050 patents worldwide, considered “one of history’s most prolific inventors in medicine­.”

By Melissa Ayala