photo credit: Bachrach
Wouldn't "pharmacy on a chip' be a perfect example? Can you tell our readers what it is and how it works, please?
Yes, it's a good example. We have created these little chips with hundreds of wells. Each well contains a dose of drug or the wells can contain different drugs. The wells have caps on them. And so the drug doesn't come out until you open the caps, and you can open the caps individually by remote control by radio frequency -- the same way you open a garage door. So you can get virtually any release pattern for a single drug or multiple drugs from a single implant or pill.
Cool technology! What are the other advantages of such a dispenser?
You could get pulsatile drug delivery, or any delivery pattern you want. You could also do remote control drug delivery.
Does that mean that a person wouldn't have to come in for injections?
I can see that would be a big plus. What is entrepreneurial science? Is Langer Lab a good illustration of it? How does the nexus of academia, the government and business work better than any of them alone? Why can't Big Pharma accomplish with its huge budget what you do in your lab?
I'm not sure there is a real definition but I think of it as science that can translate into products eventually. Our lab does that. The government provides funding, academia provides discovery, and business turns the discovery into products. Big Pharma does a lot of useful things, but they have to produce financial results in the short term. We don't. And I think that's one reason we can innovate differently. Another difference is our organization is smaller. That may make us more nimble.
Langer Lab is, reportedly, the largest biomedical engineering lab in the world. How does one keep a facility of that magnitude nimble and responsive?
A good combination, to be sure. Despite your busy schedule, you still find time to mentor. Why is it important to you?
I love working with students. Seeing them do well is almost like seeing my children do well. It makes me very happy.
You've achieved a lot of milestones during your career. You've received prestigious prizes and recognition from your peers and national and international journals and magazines. Many of your business ventures have been successful in delivering better medical care to patients. That must be very gratifying. Does it ever get old, Bob? Overwhelming?
No. I feel very lucky. It never gets old.
What's left to do?
I still want to make more inventions and discoveries, to see them get translated into products that can help people, and to train the next generation of great bioengineers.
How do you keep fresh?
I exercise a lot.
Anything in particular?
Do you have any advice for budding scientists or entrepreneurs?
[Bob quotes himself here:] "There may be many times when you try to invent something, that people tell you that it's impossible, that it will never work. But I think that is very rarely true. I think if you really believe in yourself, if you are persistent and work hard, there is very little that is truly impossible."What do you do in your free time [if you ever have any]?
Exercise and spend time with my family.Sounds good to me! What didn't we talk about that you'd like to?
You did a great job.
Why, thank you, Bob. It was a pleasure speaking with you. I can't wait to see what else you and Langer Lab come up with!