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My First Job: Living Proof Cofounder Dr. Robert Langer

His task at the Children’s Hospital in Boston was to discover the first substance that could stop new blood vessels from growing into tumors.

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Appeared In
Special Issue
Beauty Inc issue 10/12/2012

As a chemical engineering graduate who didn’t want to work for an oil company (which is what everyone else was doing), I took a job as a postdoctoral fellow at Children’s Hospital in Boston. My task was to discover the first substance that could stop new blood vessels from growing into tumors.

This story first appeared in the October 12, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

I realized what an opportunity it was, because it combined two things that I really enjoy: problem-solving and improving people’s quality of life. It taught me how to do high-risk, innovative science and laid the groundwork for my discoveries of drugs that have been used to treat more than 10 million patients. Even today, with over 800 granted or pending patents to my name, I know those early lessons contributed to my scientific discoveries as well as founding over 25 different companies, including Living Proof.

People often ask, with surprise, how I became involved with founding a beauty company. For me, it’s just another way that I’m able to use science to have an impact on people’s lives. When we started out, it was apparent how many existing solutions were just masking the problem rather than solving it. I believe that if you can identify the root cause of the problem, the solution is obvious. By using technology from outside the industry, that is exactly what we did—we invented new molecules to conquer frizz and, with Full, we transformed the texture of flat hair so it would act like thick hair. Much of my career has been focused on improving or saving people’s lives, but it is also rewarding to see how happy it makes people when you solve their hair problems, too!

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