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Making a Difference

Robert Linhardt

Robert Linhardt, the new Senior Constellation Professor in Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering, comes to Rensselaer this month along with his team of 14 researchers from the University of Iowa. Photo by Gary Gold

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Constellation Lights Up Biotech Research

This month, the Rensselaer research community will swell with the addition of 15 new researchers — all members of the Constellation in Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering. Their arrival, along with the ever-progressing construction of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, signals a new day for Rensselaer, and the realization of two key goals of The Rensselaer Plan — exponential growth in research and the appointment of world-class faculty “stars.”

This growth has been made possible by the leadership contributions of several alumni, including members of the Rensselaer Board of Trustees. Ann and John Broadbent Jr. ’59, Dorothy and Fred Chau ’71, Carl Thomsen ’38, and Thomas Baruch ’60 have committed a total of $10 million in support of this major research and faculty initiative. Their support will provide essential faculty, research, and programmatic funding.

Leading this constellation will be Robert Linhardt, who is the first Ann and John H. Broadbent Jr. ’59 Senior Constellation Professor in Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering. Linhardt comes to Rensselaer with a team of 14 researchers from the University of Iowa. He is internationally known for his research on the study of bioactive carbohydrates, particularly the complex polysaccharide heparin. Heparin is a major clinical anticoagulant with more than 500 million doses used worldwide each year. He has been a leader in developing new and better therapeutic agents, from small molecules to polymeric materials.

From his research on the antiangiogenic activity of heparin, to the discovery that low-molecular-weight heparins act as anti-thrombotic agents, to his present efforts in vaccine development, Linhardt has consistently tackled complex problems that have direct societal benefit. Linhardt was a co-discoverer, along with Dr. Robert Langer of MIT, of polyanhydrides as drug carriers. This led to the successful clinical application of polyanhydride-based drug delivery agents for the treatment of advanced brain cancer.

Linhardt says he was attracted to Rensselaer’s strengths in the engineering and physical sciences, especially polymer chemistry and materials science. He says he “was intrigued by the opportunity to conduct basic research at a university with the technological strengths to develop applications.”

“Rensselaer’s strategic initiative in biotechnology is a vital component of its effort to attain recognition as a university with global reach and global impact,” says John Broadbent ’59, whose support has made Linhardt’s appointment possible. “Biocatalysis and metabolic engineering extends the Institute’s strengths into an area of biotechnology with significant commercial applications.”

Rensselaer Magazine: Fall 2003
President's View Your Mail From the Archives Hawk Talk Class Notes Features
Front Page At Rensselaer Milestones
In Memoriam Making a Difference Staying Connected
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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in March, June, September, and December by the Office of Communications.

 
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