JDRF-Funded Researcher Awarded National Medal of Technology and Innovation

February 1, 2013 — JDRF proudly congratulates Robert Langer, Sc.D., a JDRF-funded researcher in the area of encapsulation, for receiving the prestigious National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Barack Obama during a ceremony at the White House today. Dr. Langer-who was also awarded the 2006 National Medal of Science by President George W. Bush-is a chemical engineer and a David H. Koch Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the highest honor for MIT faculty.

Dr. Langer is celebrated for his groundbreaking research aimed at improving lives through novel ways to administer treatments to patients. His work has led to polymer-based drug delivery systems that gave rise to the first FDA-approved treatment for brain cancer in 20 years; his scientific discoveries in the field of tissue engineering helped lead to the formation of artificial skin for burn victims; and his research has influenced a broad scope of other fields, including JDRF-funded encapsulation research for type 1 diabetes (T1D).

Encapsulation is a potential way to thwart the immune system from rejecting transplanted islets, by allowing beta cells/islets to be replaced without requiring immunosuppression, as in current islet and pancreas transplantation. One challenge to successful encapsulated islet transplantation, however, is the lack of biocompatible biomaterials. In response to this hurdle, Dr. Langer and his team are testing intelligent methods for creating and evaluating thousands of potentially successful encapsulation materials. They have also developed and are testing systems that would deliver anti-inflammatory or other drugs in a controlled manner during transplantation. His efforts could have important implications for the treatment of T1D.

“JDRF congratulates Dr. Langer on the recognition of his efforts to bring novel biomaterial technology to solve important clinical problems, and we are thrilled that he and his team are actively working on multiple programs to address therapeutics to impact individuals with type 1 diabetes,” said Julia Greenstein, Ph.D., JDRF’s vice president of cure therapies. “His work on deriving novel biomaterials to encapsulate beta cells is making exciting progress, and we are proud to be supporting a researcher so unwavering in his desire to help others.”

On behalf of all of us at JDRF, we extend our congratulations and gratitude to Dr. Langer on this special occasion.