Larner College of Medicine at UVM: Stetson Lecture: The Edison of Medicine: Robert Langer's Quest to Solve Global Health Challenges using Biotechnology

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Lauded as one of the world's most important individuals in biotechnology and innovators worldwide, Robert Langer, Sc.D., David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT, met with leaders, faculty, medical students and trainees while he was on campus September 25 to present the 2nd Annual Stetson Lecture at the Larner College of Medicine. The lecture, titled "The Edison of Medicine: Robert Langer's Quest to Solve Global Health Challenges using Biotechnology," took place at 1 p.m. in the Larner Classroom, Room 100 in the Larner Medical Education Center. A bright light at the intersection of engineering and medicine, scientist/inventor Langer discussed his innovative approaches that have led to such groundbreaking discoveries as controlled drug delivery, localized chemotherapy, microchip-based drug delivery, new biomaterials, tissue engineering and the inhibition of blood vessel growth in cancerous tumors. Langer, who joined the MIT faculty in 1978, is the author of more than 1,400 articles and is the most cited engineer in history (h-index 239). He has more than 1,260 issued and pending patents worldwide, which have been licensed or sublicensed to more than 300 pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology and medical device companies, and has served as both a member and chairman of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s SCIENCE Board. Langer has received more than 220 major awards, including being one of four living individuals to have received both the U.S. National Medal of Science (2006) and the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation (2011). Among his many prestigious accolades are: the 2002 Charles Stark Draper Prize – considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for engineers; the 2008 Millennium Prize, which is the world’s largest technology prize; the 2012 Priestley Medal, the highest award of the American Chemical Society; the 2013 Wolf Prize in Chemistry; the 2014 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences; and the 2014 Kyoto Prize. In addition, he is the only engineer to receive the prestigious Gairdner Foundation International Award, and in 1998, received the Lemelson-MIT prize – the world’s largest prize for invention for being “one of history’s most prolific inventors in medicine.” Langer was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 1989, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences in 1992, and the National Academy of Inventors in 2012. He received his Sc.D. in chemical engineering from MIT in 1974 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the late Judah Folkman, M.D., at Boston Children’s Hospital. The Stetson Lecture is supported by a fund established through a $100,000 estate gift from UVM alumni John W. Stetson ’56 M.D.’60 and Roberta B. Stetson ’57. A Rutland resident and UVM Wilbur Fund scholarship recipient, Stetson had a 39-year career as an orthopaedic surgeon. Two personal experiences highlighted the impact of technological advances in medicine and inspired him and his wife to create the Stetson lectureship at the Larner College of Medicine. The first was his own double-knee replacement in 2015 in Syracuse, N.Y. and the second, which occurred during his post-surgical rehabilitation, was learning about how an innovative and minimally-invasive procedure called TAVR (Trans Aortic Valve Replacement) had completely changed the life of an elderly woman who had formerly struggled to breathe.

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