UL confers honorary doctorate on ‘Edison of Medicine’

UL have presented an honorary doctorate to one of the most influential engineers in the world, Professor Robert Langer.

Described by Harvard Business Review as the ‘Edison of Medicine’, Professor Langer is credited with improving the lives of more than two billion people worldwide through his work in developing novel drug-delivery systems.

“University of Limerick 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,” UL Chancellor, Mary Harney stated at the ceremony.

Professor Langer has written more than 1,400 scholarly articles and is the most cited engineer in history. He has over 1,300 issued and pending patents worldwide and his patents have been licensed or sublicensed to more than 350 pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology and medical device companies.

Chemistry lecturer at UL, Dr Sarah Hudson, a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Langer’s lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 2006 to 2008 read his citation, saying: “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. 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”.

Professor Robert S Langer at the Bernal Institute in 2017, photographed with his former postdoctoral researcher at MIT, UL lecturer Dr Sarah Hudson. Dr Hudson read Professor Langer's citation as he was conferred with an honorary doctorate by University of Limerick on May 23, 2018.While in UL, Professor Langer officially opened the Bernal Bio Laboratories, two new labs that form part of the Bernal Institute at the university.

“I am very proud to be conferred with an honorary doctorate in engineering by University of Limerick. As a young university, UL is 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 bioengineering and bioprocessing in a state-of-the-art environment,” Professor Langer said.

“Applying critical thinking and challenging established ideas are key tenets of pioneering research and they have never been more important. I very much look forward to seeing significant research developments emerge from this university in the years to come,” he continued.

After the conferring ceremony, the MIT professor answered questions as part of an afternoon seminar series with researchers, students and academics.

Other speakers at the seminar series included: Terry McGuire, founding partner of Polaris Partners; Professor Maria Jose Alonso, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain; Professor Fergal O’Brien, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland; Professor Mark Davies, UL; and, Dr Jakki Cooney, UL.