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MIT biomedical engineer Robert Langer wins $500,000 Kyoto Prize

Robert Langer, a biomedical engineer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has won a prestigious Kyoto Prizecourtesy of Inamori Foundation

One of the Boston area’s most decorated scientists has won yet another major award: Robert Langer, a biomedical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has won the $500,000 Kyoto Prize for Advanced Technology.

The Kyoto Prize, announced on Friday in Japan, is a prestigious award from the non-profit Inamori Foundation, which honors significant scientific, cultural, and spiritual leaders.

Langer, 65, holds more than 800 patents and has published about 1,200 scientific papers over his scientific career. According to Mass High Tech, 220 companies owe their existence to him in some way, whether he helped found them directly or simply licensed his patents to them.


He is best known for his pioneering contributions in tissue engineering, where he has been a leader in the effort to grow tissues and organs on scaffolds, in the hopes of one day growing replacement parts for patients. He also has developed novel ways to package and deliver drugs in the body.

Earlier this year, Langer was awarded the $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, a new prize founded by tech entrepreneurs in 2013.

The other winners are Edward Witten, a mathematician from the Institute of Advanced Study in New Jersey and Fukumi Shimura, an 89-year-old artist who creates kimonos and has been designated a “living national treasure” by the Japanese government.

Carolyn Y. Johnson can be reached at cjohnson@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @carolynyjohnson.