Robert Langer receives National Medal of Technology and Innovation
MIT professor Robert Langer was named a recipient of one of the highest national honors in science, engineering and innovation, the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, this year.
Langer has authored about 1,200 published research papers and holds more than 800 scientific patents issued and pending. His recent research includes the development of a polymer-based, drug-delivery systems.
This gallery highlights some of Langer’s inventions, from artificial skin creation to frizzy hair solutions. Next
Microchip delivers daily doses of osteoporosis drug
About 15 years ago, Langer, right, and Michael Cima, left, who is also a professor at MIT, thought of creating a microchip that could administer drugs after it was implanted into a patient’s body. This past year, Langer and Cima, along with other MIT researchers, announced that they had successfully used a microchip to deliver daily doses of an osteoporosis drug.
These chips could change treatment for patients with osteoporosis, as well as many other illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis and cancer.
“You could literally have a pharmacy on a chip,” Langer told MIT in February of 2012. “You can do remote control delivery, you can do pulsatile drug delivery, and you can deliver multiple drugs.”
Porcupine quills create less-painful needles, adhesive materials
Langer, along with researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, are testing porcupine quills to develop new types of needles, adhesives, and other medical devices.
Porcupine quills could be used in creating less-painful needles or adhesives that can better bind internal tissues.
“With further research, biomaterials modeled based on porcupine quills could provide a new class of adhesive materials,” Langer told MIT last month.
This microscope image shows the tips of a porcupine’s quills. Next
Medical tape protects delicate skin
Langer helped invent medical tape that is safer for newborns’ skin. Babies lack the outermost layer of skin, the epidermis, and therefore the medical tape used for respirators or monitoring devices for premature babies can cause severe damage.
According to the MIT News office, more than 1.5 million people suffer skin irritation or scarring from medical tape. Most of these people are babies or the elderly, who also have delicate skin.
Gel mimics human vocal cord vibrations
Using a polymer already used in approved medical devices as their raw material, Langer and other researchers have perfected a gel that could restore damaged vocal chords. It is still in the testing phase, but if approved for use in humans, the gel would likely have to be injected about once every six months.
The project is funded by the Institute of Laryngology and Voice Restoration, where singer Julie Andrews is an honorary chairwoman.
Molecule tames frizzy hair
Langer and his scientific team formulated a molecule called polyfluoroester, which tames frizzy hair.
The product, called NoFrizz, won Allure magazine’s Beauty Breakthrough award in the fall of 2008. Sephora cosmetic stores and QVC premiered the de-frizz product in early 2009.
“We try to figure out things that make people have happy and healthier lives,” Langer told the Globe in 2009. “I felt if we can make people happier, in other ways that’s good, too.”
Tissue engineering helps burn victims
A pioneer in the field of tissue engineering, Langer and surgeon Jay Vacanti, not pictured, discovered how to create tissue and organs. This research has formed the basis for creating artificial skin for burn victims, as well as cartilage or other tissue. Back to the beginning
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