Honorary award at UL for ‘Edison of Medicine’

An American professor who revolutionised how people receive lifesaving drugs was yesterday awarded an honorary doctorate at University of Limerick.

Robert Langer in his robes before the ceremony. Photo: Oisin McHugh True Media

Professor Robert Langer was described by Harvard Business Review as the “Edison of Medicine”. He is credited with improving over 2bn lives by engineering faster drug delivery systems to fight off deadly diseases and illnesses.

His biggest achievements have been in helping to provide groundbreaking treatments for brain cancer, heart disease, burns, spinal injuries, and hair health.

“He developed a treatment for brain cancer, in which a wafer implant could be directly implanted into the brain tumour to help shrink it,” said UL chemistry lecturer Dr Sarah Hudson, who was part of Prof Langer’s postdoctoral research team at his lab in Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The scale of Robert Langer’s achievements is truly remarkable. His work over a period of four decades has been unparalleled in terms of its innovation and its benefit to billions of people the world over.

Welcoming her former mentor to UL she told those gathered: “Through his creativity, selflessness and ability to dream big, Bob Langer has touched the lives of an incalculable number of people.

“We were honoured to host him at UL last year as a Bernal distinguished lecturer, and it is with the utmost respect that we welcome him back today to honour him with this award.”

UL chancellor and former health minister Mary Harney said UL “prides itself on excellence and providing an education that enables successive generations to fulfil their potential and make a difference in the world”.

Professor Langer clearly embodies that excellence, having made the kind of difference that most of us can barely imagine. He is a role model and an inspiration.

Meanwhile, Prof Langer described UL as “fast developing a reputation for innovative research”.

“The work being undertaken here has the potential to change the lives of so many people and these new laboratories present a great opportunity for UL researchers to continue their cutting-edge work in the areas of bio-engineering and bio-processing in a state-of-the-art environment,” he said.


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