Dr. Robert Langer: The Thomas Edison of Our Time
Ira Pastor, ideaXme longevity and aging Ambassador and Founder of Bioquark interviews Dr. Robert Langer, David H. Koch Institute Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, faculty member of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, and the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.
Ira Pastor Comments:
We’ve spent some time talking about the genome, the microbiome, tissue engineering, systems biology, as well as dabbled a bit in the more exotic areas of electroceuticals, digital therapeutics, quantum biology, and even chrono-biology.
But as exciting and promising as all of these research paths are, at the end of the day, in order for them to yield what many of us (patients, prescribers, and payers alike) are looking for, that is viable therapeutic outcomes in areas of substantial unmet medical need, these drugs, biologics, gene therapies, cell therapies, and so on need to be appropriately delivered to targeted tissues of interest, and during their journey, maintain their structure and functionality.
The general area of “Drug Delivery” technologies (a currently estimated hundred billion + segment) generally refers to approaches, formulations, technologies, and systems for transporting a pharmaceutical compound in the body as needed to safely achieve its desired therapeutic effect, focusing on both quantity and duration of drug presence. Drug delivery is often approached via a drug’s chemical formulation, but may also involve medical devices or drug-device combination products.
Dr. Robert Langer
For today’s guest, I could think of no one better to talk with us about this topic and take us into the future than the world’s foremost though leader on the topic, esteemed chemical engineer, scientist, entrepreneur, and inventor, Dr. Robert Langer, David H. Koch Institute Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, faculty member of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, and the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.
Dr. Langer completed his undergraduate studies in Chemical Engineering at Cornell University, later obtaining his Sc.D in Chemical Engineering at MIT. He then joined MIT as Assistant Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry in 1978.
Since that time, Dr. Langer has created a research laboratory at MIT that is the largest biomedical engineering lab in the world, maintaining over $10 million in annual grants and over 100 researchers.
Dr. Langer’s lab work focuses at the interface of biotechnology and materials science, with a major focus on the study and development of polymers to serve as scaffolds for tissue engineering as well as vehicles for controlled delivery of drugs, including small molecules, proteins, DNA and RNA interference moieties. They are also devoted to inventing novel medical devices for diagnosis and therapeutic use, high-throughput screening platforms for new drug development and vaccine design to treat cancers and other diseases, and in cell engineering via chemical and genetic tools for cancer immunotherapy and stem cell therapy.
Dr. Langer has written over 1,400 articles and has over 1,300 issued as well as pending patents worldwide. Dr. Langer’s patents have also been licensed or sub-licensed to over 350 pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology and medical device companies.
Dr. Langer is also one of the 5 most cited individuals in history, and the most cited engineer in history.
Dr. Langer has received over 220 major awards, including being only one of 4 individuals to ever have received both the United States National Medal of Science and the United States National Medal of Technology and Innovation.
He served as a member and later Chairman of the United States FDA’s Science Board, the FDA’s highest advisory board.
On this show we will hear from Dr. Langer:
How he became interested in science and health, and ultimately the journey that put him at the exciting epicenter of material science and biotech in 2019. About the challenges and failures along his journey, to the point where the cycle of science, technology, financing, and commercialization has become “easy” and reproducible. The wide range of opportunities, from long-acting, sustained release technologies for existing drugs compounds, to some of the more advanced tools (RNA interference, gene editing, cell therapies) that he is most excited about looking at over the next 10–20 years. His views on “non-drug” technologies, such as electroceuticals and digital therapeutics. His thoughts on the longevity biotechnology space. Finally, a discussion about the influencers on his journey.
Credits: Ira Pastor interview video, text, and audio.
Follow Ira Pastor on Twitter: @IraSamuelPastor
If you liked this interview, be sure to check out our interview with Dr. Leroy Hood on Systems Medicine!
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