Public Release: 

MIT professor to receive the 2002 Othmer Gold Medal

Chemical Heritage Foundation

PHILADELPHIA -- Robert S. Langer, Kenneth J. Germeshausen Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been selected as the 2002 Othmer Gold Medal winner. The award ceremony will take place at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Friday, June 28, 2002.

Since joining the MIT faculty in 1977, Langer has specialized in controlled drug delivery and tissue engineering. His discoveries underpin today's multi-billion dollar controlled drug delivery industry and have provided a framework for the emerging technology of tissue engineering. Much of Langer's research has been in biomedical applications of polymers, and his groundbreaking research dispelled the belief that only some sizes of molecules could be delivered slowly.

Langer's later research has led to the development of a number of novel biodegradable polymers with medical applications. One of these resulted in a drug delivery system for the treatment of brain cancer (developed with Dr. Henry Brem of Johns Hopkins University Medical School)--the first FDA-approved treatment for brain cancer in 20 years and the first polymer-based treatment to deliver chemotherapy directly to a tumor site. This treatment has extended the lives of numerous patients and has far fewer side effects than conventional chemotherapy.

Langer was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 1989. He has received over eighty major awards, including the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT prize in 1998 for inventions in medicine. Both Forbes Magazine and BioWorld have named Langer one of the twenty-five most important individuals in biotechnology in the world.

About the Othmer Gold Medal

The Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) established the Othmer Gold Medal in 1997 to honor outstanding individuals who have, like Donald Othmer (1904-1995), made multifaceted contributions to our chemical and scientific heritage through outstanding activity in such areas as innovation, entrepreneurship, research, education, public understanding, legislation or philanthropy.

The medal is presented annually at the Othmer Luncheon, co-sponsored by CHF and four affiliated organizations: the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), the Chemists' Club, and the Société de Chimie Industrielle (American Section). The Luncheon commemorates Donald Othmer--noted researcher, consultant, editor, engineer, inventor, philanthropist, professor, and co-editor of the Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology.

The Othmer Luncheon has been traditionally held in New York City, where Donald and Mildred Othmer lived; this year, however, CHF is moving the annual event to its new, state-of-the-art meeting facility--the Ullyot Meeting Suite.

"CHF was designed to serve the chemical and molecular sciences communities as a central hub for celebrating the achievements of the chemical sciences and technologies," said CHF president Arnold Thackray. "Now that construction of the Ullyot Suite is complete, it makes good sense to bring CHF's most prestigious award--the Othmer Gold Medal--home to this central hub."

CHF is home to the Donald and Mildred Topp Othmer Library of Chemical History.

About the Chemical Heritage Foundation

CHF, a not-for-profit organization, advances the heritage and public understanding of the chemical and molecular sciences by operating a historical library; discovering and disseminating information about historical resources; encouraging research, scholarship, and popular writing; publishing historical materials; conducting oral histories; creating exhibits; and taking other appropriate steps to make known the achievements of chemical and molecular scientists and engineers, and of related sciences, technologies, and industries.

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