Dr Robert Langer, “one of history’s most prolific inventors in medicine”, made the case for a commercialisation culture for the benefit of society during a webinar hosted by Edinburgh Innovations.
During his talk to an online audience of hundreds at the University of Edinburgh, Dr Langer outlined his impressive career history challenging ideas and commercialising research, as well as his exceptional contributions to the fields of medicine, biotechnology and haircare.
Dr Langer charted his early struggles, his exceptional tenacity and his reliance on “passionate students”, “patient investors” and “great business-people” as well as key individuals who helped him along the path to success.
That path now includes 1,400 issued and pending patents, 40 companies and significant scientific breakthroughs in medicine. One of his companies, Moderna, is now at the heart of progress towards creating a Covid-19 vaccine.
In 2004, Parade Magazine selected Dr Langer as one of six “Heroes whose research may save your life”.
“One of the keys to making these companies successful is having students and post-docs involved, because they have so much passion.
“Also it’s involving very patient investors who understand that medical areas are not quite like the internet but if you hang in there, you can create really great products that can change the world.
“And having really great business people involved is crucial.”
– Dr Robert Langer.
Dr Langer is one of 11 Institute Professors at MIT. Being an Institute Professor is the highest honour that can be awarded to a faculty member. He has received more than 220 major awards including the Charles Stark Draper Prize, considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for engineers, and two United States National Medals: in Science and in Technology and Innovation.
He has written more than 1,500 articles and is the most cited engineer in history, with an h-index of 280 and more than 324,000 citations according to Google Scholar.
The Langer Lab at MIT, the biggest biomedical engineering lab in the world, works at the interface of biotechnology and materials science, with a focus on the development of polymers to deliver drugs continuously at controlled rates and for prolonged periods.
Dr Langer’s patents have been licensed or sublicensed to more than 400 pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology and medical device companies.
“Many of our staff and students are asking themselves how they can make a positive difference to society.
“Dr Langer is a true inspiration and shows us, through his own struggles, how a collaboration culture makes the difference in enabling game-changing innovations to reach the world.
“It’s clear that a culture of collaboration, an innovation ecosystem, is vital to making ground-breaking ideas a reality.”
– Dr George Baxter, CEO of Edinburgh Innovations.