UConn HealthRegenerative Engineering Blog
Dr. Laurencin

Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, Institute for Regenerative Engineering
Chief Executive Officer, Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS)
Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Chair in Academic Medicine
Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and
Chemical, Materials and Biomolecular Engineering
University of Connecticut

Welcome to my blog. This is where I will share items of interest, celebration, or concern with the UConn Health community. I have no set schedule for updates; I’ll post new items as they come up, but hopefully a few times each month if not more frequently.

Let me hear from you!
UConn Health faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to respond with questions, comments, and suggestions. I may use your communication as the topic of a future posting.

October 19, 2015

2015 Petit Family Foundation Award

Linda K. Barry, M.D., F.A.C.S.On September 26, Dr. Linda Barry was honored with the 2015 Petit Family Foundation Women in Science Leadership Award at the Connecticut Science Center’s Green Gala. This award recognizes exceptional leadership in promoting women’s participation and interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects. Through a nomination process and competitive review by the Science Center’s Women-in-Science Steering Committee, Dr. Barry was selected based on her unique background in clinical and translational science, as well as her commitment to mentorship and creating a pipeline for underrepresented minorities to enter research and medicine.

As an Assistant Professor of Surgery, Dr. Barry teaches at the UConn School of Medicine. She serves as Assistant Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS) at UConn, Co-Director for the CICATS Pilot Program for Collaborative Translational and Clinical Research, Director of the Young Innovative Investigator Program (YIIP), and Director of the CICATS M1 Mentorship Program. Dr. Barry holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a medical degree from Cornell University Medical College. She is a board-certified liver and pancreas surgeon.

Congratulations, Dr. Barry!

Posted at 9:05 AM

September 29, 2015

Cato T. Laurencin M.D., Ph.D. Travel Fellowship

This month, the Society for Biomaterials (SFB) announced the creation of the Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D. Travel Fellowship which encourages minority students to pursue a career in biomaterials. It provides an undergraduate student with the resources to attend the SFB’s annual meeting and become a member of the Society. The Society for Biomaterials is a multidisciplinary society of academic, health care, governmental and business professionals dedicated to promoting advancements in all aspects of biomaterial science, education and professional standards to enhance human health and quality of life.

Learn more about the Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D. Travel Fellowship.

Posted at 3:05 PM

September 28, 2015

USA Boxing

In mid-August, I traveled to Maiquetia, Venezuela for the American Boxing Confederation Championships as the team doctor for USA Boxing’s Elite Men’s Team. In the past two decades, I have volunteered as a doctor for amateur boxing matches as well as professional ones, helping facilitate a sport that provides direction for young athletes. I have always loved boxing, especially the people I’ve encountered. It has a positive influence on young people and helps those at risk in the inner city avoid negative influences by keeping them focused. The rigors of training help instill a positive work ethic in them while encouraging them to stay in shape and avoid drugs and alcohol.

USA Elite Men's Boxing Team

Posted at 3:00 PM

September 18, 2015

First Regenerative Engineering and Translational Medicine Article Published

I am pleased to announce the first article in our journal, Regenerative Engineering and Translational Medicine (RETM) was published online in early September. “Are All Adult Stem Cells The Same?” was written by Professor Arnold I. Caplan at Case Western University. The article is available here: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40883-015-0001-4.

Published by Springer and guided by an internationally recognized editorial team, RETM seeks to bring the best of regenerative engineering research to an international audience. As editor-in-chief, I welcome the submission of manuscripts on any subject within the area of regenerative engineering and translational medicine, especially those related to the topic of regenerating complex human tissues and organs. To see the new articles, please visit RETM’s home page. All articles published in 2015 and 2016 can be permanently downloaded at no cost.

Posted at 10:50 AM

September 09, 2015

IRE Student Receives NIH Supplemental Grant to Promote Diversity

Paulos Mengsteab

I am pleased to announce Paulos Mengsteab, a graduate student in the Institute for Regenerative Engineering, has received funding from a NIH/NIAMS supplemental grant which will support his Ph.D. studies. This supplemental grant to our current NIH R01 grant, “A Translational Approach to Ligament Regeneration,” evaluates the efficacy of surface modulation of a previously established 3D braided biomimetic tissue-engineered scaffold.

The Research Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research Program supports the NIH’s efforts to diversify research fields. Specifically, it recruits individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, those with disabilities, and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. The program fosters improvements in the quality of educational environments, broaden perspectives in research priorities, and improve the nation’s capacity to address and eliminate health disparities.

Paulos graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2013. While studying for his degree, Paulos founded a student organization called ‘Step In’ which worked with the Columbia Public Schools in closing the educational achievement gap among races by encouraging underrepresented minorities and disadvantaged students, through applied learning modules, to participate in the STEM fields. Paulos was also selected to participate in the Ronald E. McNair Scholar’s Program and was awarded funding to conduct research under the supervision of Dr. Ahmed Sherif El-Gizawy’s. After graduating, he was awarded the NIH Post-Baccalaureate Education Program Fellowship at the University of Washington, where he conducted research in the Biomedical Engineering Department under the supervision of Dr. Doek-Ho Kim. His primary research project at University of Washington focused on primary cardiomyocytes contractile behavior in response to dynamic nanotopography surfaces. In Fall 2014, Paulos joined the Institute for Regenerative Engineering as a Ph.D. student enrolled in the Biomedical Engineering program at the University of Connecticut.

Posted at 12:01 PM

August 25, 2015

2015 John and Valerie Rowe Scholars Visiting Lecture

Dr. Cato T. Laurencin speaking at the visiting lecture

This year, I was honored to give a lecture for the John and Valerie Rowe Scholars Visiting Lecture Series at the University of Connecticut. My talk, “Regenerative Engineering: The Theory and Practice of a Next Generation Field,” was held April 22 at the Student Union Theatre on the Storrs campus. The object of my lecture is to highlight the increasing convergence between engineering and medicine. The John and Valerie Rowe Scholars Visiting Lecture Series is designed to bring distinguished health professionals, scholars, and researchers to the Storrs campus annually to speak about critical topics in health care. The lecture series is funded through an endowment to the UConn by the Rowe Family Foundation and is part of the John and Valerie Rowe Health Professions Scholars Program. This program provides opportunities to students from backgrounds underrepresented in the health fields. I hope every Rowe scholar takes advantage of everything the program has to offer. I also want to thank the program organizers and UConn for inviting me to participate in this wonderful event.

Group photo at the visiting lecture

Posted at 07:56 AM

August 20, 2015

Wayne State University President Receives Laurencin Lifetime Research Award

M. Roy Wilson, president of Wayne State University, with Dr. Cato T. Laurencin

I am pleased to announce M. Roy Wilson, president of Wayne State University, is the recipient of the 2015 Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D., Lifetime Research Award. Dr. Wilson received his M.D. degree from Harvard Medical School and his Master of Science in epidemiology at the UCLA School of Public Health. Dr. Wilson is an accomplished researcher focused on glaucoma and blindness in West Africa, the Caribbean, and urban communities in the United States. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Ophthalmological Society, and the Glaucoma Research Society.

Dr. Wilson received the award during the opening ceremonies of the National Medical Association's 113th Annual Convention and Scientific Assembly, held at Detroit’s Cobo Center. The Laurencin Lifetime Research Award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated more than 20 years of consistent, long-lasting contributions to benefit African-Americans, reducing health disparities through recognized research and inquiry. Dr. Wilson’s extraordinary career has been dedicated to improving the health status of minority populations in his role as a master physician and surgeon.

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the W. Montague Cobb/NMA Health Institute, I thank Dr. Wilson for his many efforts and resulting accomplishments.

Posted at 10:44 AM

Congratulating Ms. Aiswaria Padmanabhan on Completing a Master’s Degree

Ms. Aiswaria Padmanabhan with Dr. Lakshmi S. Nair

Congratulations to IRE student Aiswaria, who successfully defended her master's thesis on August 6, 2015. Her work was titled “Evaluation of biodegradability and cell functionality of injectable glycol chitosan hydrogel.”

Aiswaria wrote her thesis under the supervision of Dr. Lakshmi S. Nair as part of the Materials Science and Engineering Graduate Program at UConn.

Posted at 10:38 AM

2015 Gordon Research Conference

I had the honor to be invited to Girona, Spain where I gave the opening keynote speech for the 2015 Gordon Research Conference. This year’s theme was "Regenerative Engineering and Functional Materials Integration," a new area our institute has pioneered. It featured multidisciplinary presentations by bioengineers, chemists, and clinical scientists on emerging topics in immunology and stem cells, as well as basic and translational aspects of biomaterials science. It was great seeing the extraordinary research being performed by researchers around the world. The conference was chaired by Professor Edward Botchwey of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech. Ed was one of my graduate students at Drexel who moved with me to be a professor at the University of Virginia. It’s always great seeing my students who are now noted professors in academia all over the world.

Posted at 10:35 AM

August 14, 2015

Health Disparities Elimination Summit at UConn Health

Dr. Cato T. Laurencin standing with a guest

On June 13, the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS) at UConn, in partnership with the Connecticut Legislative Black and Puerto Rican Caucus and the W. Montague Cobb/NMA Health Institute, hosted the National Health Disparities Elimination Summit here at UConn Health. The summit’s theme was “Keeping It Real: Real Solutions, Real Change.” Our aim was spearheading an important dialogue and generate actionable solutions to eliminate health disparities. The summit provided an opportunity for stakeholders to learn from and engage with national champions in the fight to eliminate health disparities. One of the summit’s major goals was building on the collective knowledge of our speakers and presenters to foster a lasting network of collaborative partnerships among the researchers, physicians, students, and community leaders who attended.

As the CEO of CICATS, I thank everyone involved in the summit for their phenomenal work organizing this event over the past months. I appreciated all the distinguished speakers who shared their expertise and insights on the causations of health disparities and the avenues for change. I also thank the Connecticut Legislative Black and Puerto Rican Caucus for their long-term support on our CICATS programs.

Photo of group at Health Disparities Elimination Summit

Posted at 01:35 PM