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MIT researcher addresses biomedical engineering challenges
Date:2/15/2008

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Much of the work in MIT Institute Professor Robert Langers prolific lab sounds like something straight from the pages of science fiction, but its products are already saving lives around the world in a variety of ways.

One of Langers specialties is growing the vital tissues of the human bodyincluding skin, blood vessels, bone and parts of organs such as the liver and intestinesin a laboratory dish instead of in the body. For example, based on Langers work scientists can grow patches of skin that can be used as grafts for burn victims.

Langer will speak about the great challenges facing biomedical engineering in the next century, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston, on Friday afternoon, Feb. 15. The talk is part of a special session announcing a National Academy of Engineering report put together by a committee of 18 leading researchers in a variety of disciplines, including Langer, and reviewed by more than 60 experts. The report, titled Grand Challenges for Engineering, describes the areas of research that are seen as most likely to produce results that could dramatically improve life on Earth.

The report will be unveiled at a press conference at 2 p.m. EST on Friday, Feb. 15, at the AAAS meeting. In addition to Langer, two other MIT scientists were members of the panel and will participate in the press conference: Wesley L. Harris, the Charles Stark Draper Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT and a former NASA associate administrator, and MIT President Emeritus Charles Vest, a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Among the grand challenges in the area of biomedical engineering, Langer says, is finding new ways of delivering drugs and other large molecules to targeted sites inside the human body.

As part of that research, Langer, who already has more than 600 patents granted or pending, has been working on
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Contact: Elizabeth Thomson
thomson@mit.edu
617-258-5402
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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