Prof. Robert S Langer, Jr

David H Koch Institute Professor
Professor of Mechanical, Chemical and Biological Engineering

Primary DLC

Department of Chemical Engineering

MIT Room: 76-661


Ilda Thompson

Areas of Interest and Expertise

Drug Delivery
Tissue Engineering Scaffold
Immobilized Enzymes
Biomedical Engineering
Center for Innovative Minimally Invasive Therapy (CIMIT)
Cancer Therapy
Cell Membrane Penetration
Neural Interface
Multielectrode Array
Targeted Nanoparticles
Lipid Nanoparticles
Gene Expression and Silencing

Research Summary

A major focus of Professor Langer’s research is the study and development of polymers to deliver drugs, particularly genetically engineered proteins and DNA, continuously at controlled rates for prolonged periods of time. Work is in progress in the following areas:

(*) Investigating the mechanism of release from polymeric delivery systems with concomitant microstructural analysis and mathematical modeling.

(*) Studying applications of these systems including the development of effective long-term delivery systems for insulin, anti-cancer drugs, growth factors, gene therapy agents and vaccines.

(*) Developing controlled release systems that can be magnetically, ultrasonically, or enzymatically triggered to increase release rates.

(*) Synthesizing new biodegradable polymeric delivery systems which will ultimately be absorbed by the body.

(*) Creating new approaches for delivering drugs such as proteins and genes across complex barriers in the body such as the blood-brain barrier, the intestine, the lung and the skin.

The interest in drug delivery systems has extended to situations where drugs may serve a potentially useful purpose and then cause toxicity. In such cases, it would be useful to have a selective drug or substance removal system. Examples include removal of heparin, bilirubin, and cholesterol. All of these studies involve reactor design, understanding biomaterials with respect to blood interactions, and modeling of in vivo situations.

In addition, we are developing drugs that specifically inhibit the process of neovascularization but do not interfere with existing blood vessels. Neovascularization is critical to the progression of several diseases, including cancer, and many diseases which cause blindness. The projects involve biochemical purification and tissue culture studies.

Finally, we have been involved in creating approaches to engineer new tissues. In particular, we are synthesizing new biodegradable polymer systems to be used in mammalian cell transplants to create liver, cartilage, and nerves and are developing bioreactors for these purposes.

Recent Work