The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) has awarded its first Langer Prize for Innovation and Entrepreneurial Excellence to César de la Fuente, Presidential Assistant Professor in the departments of bioengineering, microbiology and psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania. The fellowship — administered by AIChE’s Center for Entrepreneuring Excellence and endowed by the AIChE Foundation — is named for biomedical pioneer Robert Langer of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The Prize, which aims to support rising stars in the early stages of their careers, provides an unrestricted grant to enable creative researchers and engineering entrepreneurs to tackle high-risk, high-impact challenges with the potential of achieving game-changing innovations. De la Fuente received the Langer Prize on November 10 at the 2019 AIChE Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL.
An innovator in the computerization of biological systems, de la Fuente leads the Univ. of Pennsylvania’s Machine Biology group, where he draws upon protein design, synthetic biology, bioengineering, microbiology, and computational biology to devise new therapies for biomedical problems such as antibiotic resistance, infectious diseases, cancer, and microbiome engineering. His discoveries have yielded numerous patents and more than 70 publications.
In 2019, de la Fuente was recognized by MIT Technology Review as one of the world’s top innovators for “digitizing evolution to make better antibiotics.” He was also named a “Top-10-Under-40” honoree by Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News, and he received the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers’ Young Investigator Award.
Kristi Anseth, Distinguished Tisone Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder and a co-chair of the Langer Prize selection committee, said “We are delighted that César de la Fuente is the inaugural prize recipient.” She explained that AIChE’s goal for the Langer Prize “is to invest in the potential of chemical engineers — as innovators, inventors, and entrepreneurs. Our vision is to assist young researchers in pursuing big ideas that may open doors to new frontiers in areas including biological engineering, biomaterials, drug delivery, and biotechnology.”
For more information about AIChE’s Langer Prizes, or to support the endowment campaign, visit www.aiche.org/giving/impact/funds/langer-prizes-endowment.
About AIChE: AIChE is a professional society of more than 60,000 members in more than 110 countries. Its members work in corporations, universities and government using their knowledge of chemical processes to develop safe and useful products for the benefit of society. Through its varied programs, AIChE continues to be a focal point for information exchange on the frontier of chemical engineering research in such areas as nanotechnology, sustainability, hydrogen fuels, biological and environmental engineering, and chemical plant safety and security. More information about AIChE is available at www.aiche.org.