NAE to award innovator in biomedical engineering and defense research leader

October 01, 2010

WASHINGTON - During its 2010 annual meeting, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) will present two awards for extraordinary impact on the engineering profession. The Academy's Founders Award will be given to Robert Langer, who has made contributions in the areas of drug delivery and tissue engineering, and Anita Jones will receive the Arthur M. Bueche Award for leadership in the development of science and technology policy. The awards will be presented at a ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 3.

In addition to being a member of NAE, Langer has also been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. He is the David Koch Institute Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's department of chemical engineering. He will receive the Founders Award for "the invention, development, and commercialization of methods and materials for drug delivery and tissue engineering, mentoring of young scientists, and the promotion of the nation's health." The award recognizes outstanding professional, educational, and personal achievements to the benefit of society, and it includes $2,500 and a gold medallion.

Langer is widely known for his work on controlled-release formulas in drugs. His breakthrough in this area allows drugs to be released into the body on a sustained, periodic basis so that patients can take drugs less frequently while receiving extended benefits. Sustained-release properties are now common in many drugs on the market today and have led to new developments in the treatment of specific health problems, such as brain tumors.

In the late 1980s, Langer pioneered research that resulted in the field of tissue engineering. He developed a method to combine tissue-specific cells in such a way that, when implanted into animals, new tissue was created from the cell structure. His configuration for combining the cells -- three-dimensional scaffolds -- was in itself an important advancement, allowing for cell attachment and migration as well as mass transfer of oxygen. Langer later developed a biodegradable material to further advance tissue engineering technologies.

Langer served for eight years on the Food and Drug Administration's Science Board and was its chairman for four years. Among other honors, he was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2007, was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2006, and won NAE's Draper Prize in 2002 and the Lemelson-MIT Prize in 1998.

Anita Jones, a member of NAE and a University Professor Emerita in the computer science department at the University of Virginia, will be presented the Arthur M. Bueche Award for "leadership in the development of U.S. science and technology policy and the development of technologies for national security, including technical contributions to high-performance computing and cybersecurity." She will receive $2,500 and a gold medallion.

Jones has served in volunteer and appointed roles for a number of bodies, many of which have important policy responsibilities. She was director of the Defense Department's Defense Research and Engineering from 1993-1997 and in this role was the key player in the development and protection of the science and technology budget for the Pentagon, successfully growing R&D programs at a time when the department's overall budget was being reduced.

She was a member of the National Science Board from 1999 to 2004 and served as its vice chair for two years, was a member of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board from 1979 to 1984, served on the Defense Science Board numerous times, and was a member of the advisory council for the Policy and Global Affairs Division at the National Research Council from 1997 to 2006. In addition, she served on committees that authored two influential Research Council reports: Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future and Polar Icebreakers in a Changing World: An Assessment of U.S. Needs.

Jones was awarded the IEEE Founders Medal in 2007 and the Ada Lovelace Award from the Association of Women in Computing in 2004. In 2000 she was named a fellow at both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2010 she was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society.
The National Academy of Engineering is a private, nonprofit institution that provides technology advice under a congressional charter. NAE also salutes leaders in engineering for their lifetime dedication to the field and their commitment to advancing society through great achievements. NAE dedicates more than $1 million annually to recognize these leaders and to bring better understanding of engineering's importance to society. In addition to the Founders and Bueche awards, NAE presents the Charles Stark Draper Prize, the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize, and the Bernard M. Gordon Prize. For more information about these awards, please contact Deborah Young, NAE awards administrator, at 202-334-1266, or visit the NAE website at

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

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