New Fellowship Program Rewards Inventors And Entrepreneurs

By Chemical Processing Staff

Jun 04, 2019

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) announces the creation of a new fellowship program that will assist researchers in pursuing innovative technical work with the potential of making valuable contributions to society. The Langer Prizes for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Excellence will award unrestricted grants of up to $100,000 to assist researchers — particularly those working in chemical and biological engineering— in pursuing “blue-sky” ideas that may lead to important technical and commercial innovations. The annual fellowships are endowed by the AIChE Foundation in the name of Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a pioneer in drug delivery and biomaterials for medical applications.

The inaugural prize will be awarded at the 2019 AIChE Annual Meeting, November 10–15, in Orlando, Florida. Recipients will become part of a network of Langer Prize Fellows, skilled in tackling high-risk, high-impact challenges across a range of industries and commercial pursuits, and will have opportunities to collaborate with other innovators and entrepreneurs. Applications for the 2019 prize are due August 1.

Kristi Anseth, a director of AIChE and a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder, helped to establish the new Langer Prizes, motivated by her past experience working as a research fellow under Langer’s supervision. Anseth says that she and the other supporters of the fellowship endowment wish to demonstrate their gratitude to Langer, adding, “I feel personally fortunate to count Bob as a mentor and friend. He embodies an amazing spirit of creativity that inspires people to think beyond what is probable and to dream bigger.”

Robert Langer established early in his career that proteins could be encapsulated in polymeric matrices and released in a sustained manner. He went on to pioneer tissue engineering techniques for regenerative medicine and invented many new biomedical technologies for drug delivery. Langer’s work is reportedly documented in more than 1,400 articles and over 1,300 patents, and his patents have been licensed to over 350 pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology and medical device companies. Langer’s major honors include the U.S. National Medal of Science; the National Medal of Technology and Innovation; the Charles Stark Draper Prize, considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for engineers; and the Millennium Prize, the world’s largest technology prize. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Inventors.

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