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Truly Deserving Of The Priestley Medal

August 29, 2011 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 89, ISSUE 35

Congratulations to the selection committee members on their choice of Robert S. Langer for ACS’s highest award for 2012—the Priestley Medal!

The announcement of his winning in a News of the Week article followed by Editor-in-Chief Rudy Baum’s editorial provided considerable insight into the remarkable, groundbreaking contributions of this 63-year-old chemical engineer (C&EN, June 13, page 7, and June 20, page 5). However, I would like to add a bit more insight as to the impact he has had in the broad field of pharmaceutical sciences.

While I served as editor (now retired) of the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Langer submitted several of his early papers reporting on new and novel systems to control drug release from various dosage forms of drug products. I was personally impressed at the time, as were the expert reviewers to whom I sent copies of his manuscripts for their assessment and appraisal. It is not surprising, therefore, that one of his colleagues is quoted in C&EN as saying, “His pioneering work, in particular in slow-release medicines, has helped millions of people throughout the world.” What also surprised me at the time was that this chemical engineer from Massachusetts Institute of Technology had chosen a pharmaceutical sciences journal to showcase his work.

My chief purpose in writing now is to inform my chemical friends that Langer’s work has been well recognized and appreciated by their colleagues in the pharmaceutical field. Each year, the American Pharmacists Association’s Academy of Pharmaceutical Research & Science awards its highest prize to the paper voted the best report of original research published during the preceding year in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Langer has the rare distinction of having been so honored three separate times, in 1995, 1996, and 1999.

So there is little left in the way of honors for this outstanding scientist—except, of course, the Nobel Prize. Perhaps that will be next for him.

By Edward G. Feldmann
Sarasota, Fla.



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