Alpert Prize Honors Bioengineering Luminaries
The 2011 Warren Alpert Foundation Prize will be awarded to bioengineering pioneers Alain F. Carpentier and Robert S. Langer in recognition of their extraordinary contributions to medicine. The recipients, who will share an unrestricted prize of $250,000, will be honored at a symposium October 6, 2011, at Harvard Medical School.
The Alpert Prize recognizes researchers for laboratory discoveries with dramatic promise to improve human health. That spirit defines the remarkable careers of Langer, a basic scientist and engineer whose research is focused directly at the clinic, and Carpentier, a clinician whose practice has brought him to engineering.
The late Warren Alpert, a philanthropist dedicated to advancing biomedical research, established the Prize in 1987. To date, the Foundation has awarded more than $3 million to 39 individuals. Seven honorees have also received a Nobel Prize.
"The Alpert Prize was created to reward scientists whose discoveries have made great progress in new therapies for a wide range of diseases," said Jeffrey S. Flier, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Harvard University and chairman of the Foundation’s scientific advisory committee. "Alain F. Carpentier and Robert S. Langer’s research splendidly fulfills the Prize’s central mission."
Alain F. CarpentierCarpentier, head of the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery at the Hôpital Européen Georges Pompidou in Paris, is renowned for his research on developing and implanting the first successful artificial bronchus, saving the lung of a patient with lung cancer. The cardiac surgeon also developed the world’s first artificial valve used in clinical practice. The valve utilizes animal tissues that are chemically processed in order to prevent immunological reaction when implanted in humans and currently benefits more than 100,000 patients each year. Carpentier is also a lead developer of a fully implantable artificial heart created from biomaterials, soon to enter clinical trials. He was elected President of the French Academy of Sciences in 2011.
"This prestigious award is a great honor for myself, my research team and my country," Carpentier said. "The development of biological valve prosthesis is a sterling example of the important contribution of bioengineering in the progress of surgery. We are proud that this new valve could benefit thousands of patients.
Robert LangerLanger, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is known widely for his advancements in both drug delivery and tissue engineering. He has developed polymers to deliver drugs continuously at controlled rates over time and has engineered blood vessels and vascularized skeletal muscle tissue. The world’s most cited engineer, Langer holds more than 800 granted or pending patents and is the youngest person to be elected to all three National Academies. Other recognitions include the National Medal of Science, the Charles Stark Draper Prize and the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research; he is to receive the American Chemical Society Priestley Medal in 2012.
"I am very grateful to the Warren Alpert Foundation for recognizing my work, and I am honored to be in the company of the previous award winners." Langer said. "My colleagues and I remain dedicated to improving patients’ lives and are thrilled that the Foundation acknowledged our research with this prize."