UConn HealthRegenerative Engineering Blog

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

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

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

August 14, 2015

Eric James Successfully Defends Thesis

Erik N. James standing with Dr. Lakshmi Nair

On August 5, Eric N. James, a member of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering, successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis, “Post-Transcriptional Regulation in Osteoblast Using Localized Delivery of microRNAs from Nanofibers." Eric wrote his thesis under the supervision of Dr. Lakshmi S. Nair as part of Skeletal, Craniofacial and Oral Biology Graduate Program. Members of his committee also included Drs. Anne Delany and Yusuf Khan.

Congratulations on your accomplishment, Eric!

Posted at 01:33 PM

June 25, 2015

IRE Faculty Member Edits Textbook on Regenerative Engineering

A new textbook entitled Injectable Hydrogels for Regenerative Engineering edited by UConn’s Lakshmi Nair, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, focuses on synthetic approaches towards developing injectable hydrogels, and the clinical implications and applications of injectable hydrogels for engineering various tissues. The chapters of the book are contributed by the leading researchers in academia, surgeons, and industry leaders. In this book, readers can find detailed information on applications of the hydrogels to regenerate many issues, such as neural tissue, articular cartilage, and cardiac tissue.

Posted at 04:01 PM

June 03, 2015

New Regenerative Engineering Textbook

Cover of Regenerative Engineering of Musculoskeletal Tissues and Interfaces textbook

The Institute for Regenerative Engineering recently published a new textbook, Regenerative Engineering of Musculoskeletal Tissues and Interfaces. Published by Woodhead Publishing Ltd, this comprehensive book looks at individual musculoskeletal tissues as well as tissue interfaces. Early chapters cover various fundamentals of biomaterials and scaffolds, types of cells, growth factors, and mechanical forces, moving on to discuss tissue-engineering strategies for bone, tendon, ligament, cartilage, meniscus, and muscle, as well as progress and advances in tissue vascularization and nerve innervation of the individual tissues. Late chapters present information on musculoskeletal tissue interfaces. As the chief editor, I want to express my gratitude first and foremost to all our contributors and especially, my co-editors, Drs. Joseph Freeman and Syam Nukavarapu, for their tireless efforts and time to edit this book.

Posted at 03:14 PM

May 29, 2015

Congratulations to Dr. Paiyz Mikael

Dr. Paiyz Mikael presenting

On April 10th, Paiyz successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis and completed her work with the Institute for Regenerative Engineering. Paiyz joined the Institute under the guidance of Dr. Syam Nukavarapu as part of UConn’s Biomedical Engineering Program. Her thesis focused on developing mechanically superior polymeric-carbon nanotube composite scaffolds for the regeneration of segmental bone defects.

Congratulations Paiyz!

Posted at 08:59 AM

April 17, 2015

2nd Women in Surgery Lectureship

On March 6th, UConn Health hosted the 2nd Women in Surgery Lectureship with guest lecturer Dr. Andrea Hayes-Jordan, Director of Pediatric Surgical Oncology and Associate Professor of Surgical Oncology and Pediatrics at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The lectureship, co-sponsored by CICATS and the Department of Surgery, was moderated by Dr. Linda Barry, CICATS COO and Assistant Director.

Dr. Hayes-Jordan is the only surgeon in North America to perform hyperthermic peritoneal perfusion with chemotherapy (HIPEC), a heated chemotherapy procedure for the treatment of children with rare abdominal cancers. In addition, she is the principal investigator for three phase 1 and one phase 2 investigator-initiated trials. She also leads a basic science laboratory studying lung metastasis and sarcomas. Dr. Hayes-Jordan’s lecture focused on her pioneering surgical and academic experience in performing the HIPEC procedure. Through rigorous analysis of HIPEC data, she has refined and improved the procedure, identifying those patients best suited to benefit from it. Dr. Hayes-Jordan provided case presentations, including in-depth analyses of some specific patients’ diagnoses and treatments.

Following her lecture, the Women in Surgery Interest Group luncheon provided a unique opportunity for students to discuss their interests, future career paths and academic track with Dr. Hayes-Jordan.

We thank Dr. Hayes-Jordan for giving so much of her time to inform, educate and inspire the faculty and student body. We look forward to following the future of her research and career.

2015 Women in Surgery Lectureship

Posted at 02:53 PM

May 27, 2014

Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair

Anubhuti Mathur, a student at Glastonbury High School who currently shadows in Dr. Sangamesh Kumbar’s laboratory, has earned top honors in two prestigious science and engineering competitions. Anubhuti earned second place in the Physical Science division of the Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair. Of the 600+ participants in this fair, she was among the six selected to represent Connecticut at Intel's International Science and Engineering Fair this month in Los Angeles.

Earlier in the year, Anubhuti competed in the Connecticut Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. Here, she was one of fifteen selected from a pool of over 80 candidates for the oral competition. Anubhuti presented her research, "The Synthesis and Characterization of EGCG - PLGA Conjugates and Mixtures" to a panel of judges and an audience of her peers. She was awarded third place and the right to present her work at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in Washington, DC in April.

We firmly believe in Anubhuti’s ability to both conduct high-level research and to effectively present her work is essential to her training as a future scientist or engineer. Congratulations from everyone in the Institute for Regenerative Engineering, Anubhuti!

Posted at 12:09 PM

May 07, 2014

2014 Healthcare and Science Stars of Tomorrow Career Symposium

On March 8th, I gave the keynote speech at the symposium sponsored by the T. Leroy Jefferson Medical Society. My talk focused on choosing careers in the various fields in healthcare and the sciences. Over 600 ethnically diverse students representing more than 25 high schools in Palm Beach, Okeechobee, and Martin counties attended the symposium. The students met healthcare professionals and representatives from various academic institutions, exploring career options through lectures, exhibits, live demonstrations, and multimedia sources. The T. Leroy Jefferson Medical Society is comprised of dedicated healthcare professionals working together to improve health and wellness, access to quality care, academic and career opportunities, for underserved populations. I want to thank the members and, in particular, Dr. Roger Duncan for inviting me to participate in this wonderful event.

Photo of Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, keynote speaker

Photo of Dr. Cato T. Laurencin standing with group

Posted at 02:44 PM

September 19, 2013

Regenerative Engineering Textbook

Regenerative Engineering book cover

The Institute for Regenerative Engineering has launched a textbook entitled Regenerative Engineering. It explores the development and examination of vital organs and tissue types, addressing concerns as they relate to the regenerative engineering of various organ tissues, vascular tissues, bone, ligament, neural tissue, and the interfaces between tissues. I would like to thank all of the authors for their outstanding contributions. I also thank my mentor, Dr. Robert S. Langer of MIT who contributed the foreword. In addition, I value Dr. Yusuf Khan’s time and effort in putting together this textbook.

Posted at 03:42 PM

April 23, 2013

Member Spotlight on the AAAS Website

Earlier this year, I received the 2012 Mentor Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science for mentoring students in biomedical engineering. As a follow-up to that, Dr. Aira Nouri asked me to participate in a brief discussion about my views on the importance of mentoring. Our conversation has been posted on the AAAS website. Mentoring is, for me, one of the most important legacies we leave behind us; and I urge everyone to share both their knowledge and themselves with those who will follow and continue the work we've begun.

Posted at 08:04 AM

April 16, 2013

The CCEI Start-Up Challenge Pitch Competition

Photo of Matthew Harmon

The Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CCEI) held its Start-Up Challenge Pitch Competition on April 8 on the Storrs campus. Open to students on all UConn campuses, CCEI awarded a total of $10,000 in prize money to individuals and/or teams across ten categories. Entries ranged from mobile apps for improved access to educational resources to novel material design for improved transportation infrastructure. The organizers challenged students to prepare a 90-second business idea pitch followed by a 2-minute Q&A session.

I am very proud to announce that our pitch for a novel interbody fusion device won “Best Pitch.” Nicknamed SpineFuze, this is a biodegradable, natural polymer-based interbody fusion device for spinal disc surgery. The team also plans to submit an additional entry for the upcoming written business-plan competition.

The business pitch was delivered by Matthew Harmon, a current 3rd-year Ph.D. student in the Institute for Regenerative Engineering. Matthew is completing his Ph.D. before returning to medical school to continue his pursuit of a career as a physician scientist in orthopaedics. His current research interests involve novel material design for the treatment of spine-related orthopaedic injuries and pathologies.

Posted at 10:44 AM

April 12, 2013

NSF Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Program

I am happy to announce that Ms. Deborah Dorcemus, an IRE graduate student, was recently awarded the National Science Foundation’s prestigious LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship. The LSAMP program is funded by the National Science Foundation and focuses on strengthen the participation, representation and success of underrepresented minorities in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Fellows receive two years of funding under the program with an additional three years provided by their advisors.

After graduating high school in 2008, Deborah chose to attend the University of Connecticut for her degree in Biomedical Engineering. Throughout her four years of undergraduate work, Deborah was heavily involved with several organizations that promote the professional development and academic success of students and minorities interested in the STEM fields. Deborah also held the positions of secretary, vice president, and president of the UConn chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers.

Upon receiving her Bachelor of Science in May 2012, she decided to continue on her academic path and enrolled in UConn’s Graduate program for her Master’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering with a focus in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine. With the support of her advisor, Dr. Syam P. Nukavarapu (IRE faculty member), she is nearing completion of her first year of graduate studies. In addition to her lab and school work, Deborah volunteers with the Engineering Graduate Dean’s Office, under the supervision of Aida Ghiaei, and works with students from technical high schools who come to UConn in hopes of becoming engineers. Deborah’s thesis work involves utilizing tissue engineering strategies to develop 3D matrixes that would regenerate osteochondral (functional bone and cartilage) tissue. In order to achieve this, she will use a polymer-hydrogel matrix to deliver growth factors that would cue the tissue to a specific formation. In the end, this structure will serve to replace damaged or arthritic tissue which is an area of great need among the elderly as well as athletes.

Posted at 03:40 PM

March 27, 2013

Dean's Distinguished Seminar Series - University of Colorado Denver

On March 19, I served as a guest speaker at the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Medicine. Each year, speakers in various disciples from across the country are invited to participate in the Dean’s Distinguished Seminar series. I spoke on musculoskeletal regenerative engineering and the challenges facing tissue engineering. I also highlighted the emergence of regenerative engineering as a promising new technology to regenerate tissues and organs for our bodies. My thanks to everyone at University of Colorado Denver for their hospitality. I look forward to collaborating with them in the future.

Posted at 10:33 AM

March 04, 2013

American Association for the Advancement of Science Mentor Award

In mid-February, I was so honored to receive the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Mentor Award at a ceremony held during the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston. The Mentor Award honors AAAS members who have mentored significant numbers of underrepresented students (such as women, minorities, and persons with disabilities) achieve Ph.D. degrees in the sciences as well as encouraging scholarship, activism, and community-building in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. A very heartfelt thank you to the AAAS for selecting me for this award. I would also like to thank all the students, fellows, residents, and faculty members who have worked with me over the years.

Dr. Laurencin receiving the mentor award

Dr. Laurencin receiving the mentor award

Posted at 08:02 AM

January 08, 2013

The Basore Distinguished Lecture at Auburn University

Last month, I was honored to deliver the Basore Lecture at Auburn. I appreciated the warm hospitality provided by the entire school. I want to thank Professor Mario R. Eden, Chairman of the Chemical Engineering for hosting me. During the visit, I also had the opportunity to join my friend and colleague, Dr. James Andrews a world-renowned orthopaedic surgeon on the Auburn football team sidelines.

Photo of students

Posted at 01:24 PM

December 21, 2012

Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award

I was proud to receive the prestigious Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award last month in Atlanta, Georgia. It recognizes individuals who have worked to inspire their students to be mentors themselves. I was nominated by my former student Dr. Saadiq El-Amin who is currently a professor of orthopaedic surgery at Southern Illinois University who is mentoring a new generation of students and individuals in the community. I am grateful to Dr. El-Amin and the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award Advisory Committee for this award.

Photo of Dr. Cato T. Laurencin standing with group

Photo of Dr. Cato T. Laurencin receiving the award

Posted at 08:32 AM

December 12, 2012

Pirkey Lectureship at the University of Texas, Austin

It was my honor and privilege to serve as Visiting Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Texas, Austin. During the visit, I delivered the Pirkey lectureship entitled “Musculoskeletal Regenerative Engineering: Taking on the Grand Challenges.” My talk highlighted the tremendous work being carried out here at the Institute for Regenerative Engineering. More specifically, I discussed the unprecedented strides predicted for the next decade in regenerating musculoskeletal tissues, a move from an era of advanced prosthetics to what we terms “Regenerative Engineering.”

I so appreciated the hospitality provided by the university and I thank Professor Nicholas A. Peppas, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Pharmacy Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, in particular, for inviting me to visit this great institution.

Photo of students

Posted at 02:48 PM

July 27, 2012

Congratulations to Ami and Ashley Amini, the Institute for Regenerative Engineering's Combined D.M.D./Ph.D. Students!

In June, they successfully defended their Ph.D. theses and completed their Ph.D. work. Not only did they produce outstanding research work in our institute resulting in papers published in several prestigious journals, they each competed for and received highly selective NIH individual grants for their training. Ami and Ashley are now focused on their D.M.D. program. I am very proud of Ami and Ashley and applaud their achievements.


Posted at 12:11 PM

July 16, 2012

National M.D./Ph.D. Student Conference

Shaun McLaughlin This past weekend, Shaun McLaughlin, an M.D./Ph.D. student at the Institute for Regenerative Engineering working under my supervision attended the national M.D./Ph.D. student conference in Keystone, Colorado. Each year, the University of Colorado Medical Scientist Training Program sponsors and coordinates this event. The conference provides an opportunity for M.D./Ph.D. students around the country to present their work and interact with other students and prominent scientific investigators. This meeting has taken place since 1986 and currently over 225 students, faculty, and alumni from over 60 academic institutions in the United States and Canada attends annually.

Francis Collins, M.D.,Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was one of the keynote speakers at this year’s event, presenting a talk entitled: “Exceptional Opportunities in Biomedical Research.” Shaun gave his presentation entitled “Novel Aligned Electrospun Biphasic Scaffolds for Skeletal Muscle Regenerative Engineering,” being one of three bioengineering presentations at this year’s conference. It should be noted that Shaun’s research work is remarkable and I am so proud to have Shaun as my student in the Institute for Regenerative Engineering. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for his cutting edge research.

Shaun McLaughlin and Dr. Francis Collins
Shaun McLaughlin and Dr. Francis Collins.

Posted at 09:03 AM

April 02, 2012

The Urban Education Institute Speech

The Urban Education Institute invited me to join them in late March at North Carolina State A&T State University in Greensboro, NC. For those who may not know, the Institute is a meeting space for individuals and groups to examine critical issues that impact learners in urban contexts, share methods and approaches they utilize to address these issues, and brainstorm concrete steps to move forward as a critical mass of colleagues and collaborators. This year’s theme was “African American Males in the STEM Professions: Strategies, Practices, Exemplars.”

I led a session entitled “Preparing for Surgery.” It focused on challenges and barriers encountered by minority males, particularly African Americans, when they pursue careers in medicine. During the discussion, I shared my own experience as an African American physician in America, emphasizing the importance of mentoring, the prerequisite knowledge and skills, and academic programming that are important in the medical profession. In addition, I offered recommendations for concrete strategies and practices that I have used at public schools, universities, and in the community to encourage more minority males to pursue careers in medicine.

I saw an awesome group of African American scientists including one of my mentors, Dr. Louis Sullivan, and the legendary Dr. John Slaughter. I also had the opportunity to interact with Dr. James Stith, a physicist who has played an important role in increasing the role of African Americans in the physical sciences. He gave an incredible talk to the group, and I connected with everything he said. I look forward to collaborating with him in the future.

During my time in Greensboro, I visited the Woolworth’s where, in 1960, four male students sat down at the “whites only” lunch counter and ordered coffee. When they were refused service, they stayed until closing in nonviolent protest. The next day, another 20 students joined them, and by the fourth day, the number rose to 300, and organizers agreed to spread their nonviolent sit-in to the lunch counter at Greensboro's Kress store. Within a week, students in other North Carolina towns launched their own sit-ins, and the movement spread throughout the South. On July 25, local store owners abandoned their segregation policies and a day later, the entire Woolworth's chain was desegregated, serving blacks and whites alike.

I came away from my visit thankful for all those in the past whose actions have allowed me to be here, as well as those present-day mentors who sustain me now. Moreover, I reaffirm my pledge to give back by influencing the generations to come.


The Woolworths in Greensboro, site of the first sit in.


The Woolworth counter in Greensboro, that was the site of the origin of the sit in movement.

Posted at 01:24 PM

March 01, 2012

Featured M.D./Ph.D. Student at the Institute for Regenerative Engineering: Shaun W. McLaughlin

Shaun W. McLaughlin Shaun is a third-year M.D./Ph.D. student doing his Ph.D. thesis in my laboratory at the Institute for Regenerative Engineering. Prior to coming to UConn, Shaun worked with me at the University of Virginia where his main research focus was using hydrogels to delivery bioactive molecules that aid in bone regeneration. He also has worked in the private sector conducting novel bio-implant and tissue engineering research. Specifically his research focused on the development of an artificial ACL ligament using three-dimensional braided microfibers as well as osteo-differentiation using a laser-guided surface-etching technique on titanium implants.

Since entering his Ph.D. phase at UConn, he has been shifting his research focus to skeletal muscle regenerative engineering. “I’m very interested in using a progenitor cell located in skeletal muscle known as the satellite stem cell to aid in regeneration of skeletal muscle. I hope that, by providing a scaffold that can aid in cellular alignment and differentiation of skeletal muscle stem cells, I’ll accomplish this goal.” The scaffold he uses in his research will be fabricated using a technique known as electrospinning. I was one of the pioneers of implementing electrospinning for tissue engineering. By modifying this technique, he will generate highly aligned (parallel) nanofibers which provide cues for satellite cells to undergo alignment and subsequent fusion into more mature myotubes which is necessary for adult skeletal muscle formation.

I am very proud to have Shaun as a student. He is an ambitious young man who wants to enter the fields of Orthopaedic Surgery and Bioengineering, much as I have. His ultimate goal is to become a physician-scientist, setting up his own research laboratory. He hopes to develop state-of-the-art biomaterials and implant them into patients. Outside of the laboratory and classroom, Shaun enjoys triathlons, playing ice hockey, mountain climbing, and anything outdoors.

Posted at 04:38 PM

February 15, 2012

Distinguished Lecturer at University of California, Davis

In late January, I had the opportunity to participate in the Biomedical Engineering Distinguished Seminar Series at UC Davis. It was an honor to give a lecture at an institution with such outstanding faculty and staff, as well as interesting students. My lecture was entitled "Regenerative Engineering of Hard and Soft Musculoskeletal Tissues." I thank UC Davis and Professor Kyriacos Athanasiou, Chairman of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, in particular, for inviting me to visit this great institution. I look forward to working with my colleagues at UC Davis in the future.

Dr. Laurencin Dr. Laurencin

Posted at 08:08 AM

October 05, 2011

Encouraging Leadership in Medicine

Photo of Dr. Cato T. Laurencin and Luis Daniel Munoz Jr. I was honored and touched recently to receive the first “Leaders in Medicine” award from the UConn School of Medicine student body. The award was made during a recent a “2011 Leaders in Medicine Meet and Greet” event, organized by an innovative group of UConn medical students. They organized the event to encourage enthusiasm, inspiration, and leadership within current and future medical professionals.

I applaud their efforts and was thrilled to be invited to their recent meeting. Walking into the meeting, I had no idea they would be honoring me as well.

“With this award, we wanted to identify an individual who has exemplified leadership and who has been a strong advocate for students,” said Luis Daniel Munoz Jr., one of the organizers of the event, noting that my vision and leadership firmly placed the Health Center on course for a strong future.

To me, this was just as meaningful as the 2010 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring that I received in ceremonies at the White House.

The award bears the following inscription: “In recognition of your extraordinary leadership, vision and commitment to medical education, research and health advocacy."

To the UConn medical students: I offer my sincere thanks and best wishes for your professional and personal endeavors!

Posted at 12:05 PM

April 01, 2011

Choosing Clinical Careers

Dr. Laurencin speaking to students in the Keller Auditorium It was my pleasure today to spend time with high school students who are interested in health careers during the annual Clinical Career Day at the UConn Health Center. This year, we proudly hosted more than 450 students from 29 high schools who spent their school day interacting with doctors and dentists, nurses and pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals. The students also had access to information booths and breakout sessions examining a wide range of topics.

Healthcare is one of the fastest growing sectors in the regional and national economy. I’m optimistic that today’s event and other outreach efforts will inspire more Connecticut students to explore healthcare careers, including medicine and dentistry. I know I can’t imagine a more fulfilling career path.

Posted at 04:10 PM

September 07, 2010

UConn School of Medicine Provides Care Across the Country

While most Americans recently reflected on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Bruce Gould rolled up his sleeves and reached out to the people of New Orleans.

Dr. Gould was asked to participate in a free health clinic held in New Orleans during Katrina's anniversary. The clinic was sponsored by the National Association of Free Clinics which has organized free screenings across the country for people with little or no insurance. I had the privilege of joining Dr. Gould in February when a similar event was held in Hartford -- and hundreds of people in our region sought help.

Accompanying him on the recent trip were third-year medical student James Wallace, and Dr. Juliet Appiah, a resident. For all three, it was an awe-inspiring experience. According to Dr. Gould, they saw patients with a wide range of medical issues from hypertension and heart disease to gall stones -- all of whom were very appreciative of the care UConn provided.

Earlier this summer, Dr. Gould precepted the activities of second-year resident Marilyn Katz and fourth-year medical student Jessica Johnson who participated in a free clinic in Washington, D.C., which was also sponsored by the National Association of Free Clinics.

Please join me in commending Dr. Gould for his leadership, advocacy and compassion and for sharing his knowledge with our students, residents and fellows.

Photo of Dr. Bruce Gould, Dr. Juliet Appiah and James Wallace

Dr. Bruce Gould, Dr. Juliet Appiah and James Wallace.

Photo of volunteers at the New Orleans CARE Clinic

Volunteers at the New Orleans CARE Clinic.

Photo of the UConn Team together with other volunteers

The UConn Team together with other volunteers.

Posted at 01:03 PM

August 02, 2010

Health Career Opportunity Programs

Recently the headline of a story in the Hartford Courant caught my attention. The article titled "Getting Students Interested in Science" described several programs that provide underrepresented high school students opportunities to explore health professions. I was very proud that the article was describing programs provided through the Health Center's Health Career Opportunity Programs, an integral part of the UConn Schools of Medicine and Dental Medicine, and the graduate school.

Programs such as the Aetna Health Professions Partnership Initiative described in the article are a pipeline for disadvantaged or underrepresented students pursuing careers in health professions. Due to the availability of programs through HCOP, some of the students have been the first in their families to have the opportunity to attend college. Dr. Marja Hurley, program director, has helped hundreds of students successfully pursue careers in medicine, dentistry and other health professions. She has been recognized by several organizations for her contributions to the development of educational programs to benefit underrepresented students in American medical and dental education.

I encourage you to read the inspiring story, to learn more about the programs available through Health Career Opportunity Programs, and to tell a high school student about the opportunities available at the UConn Health Center.

Photo of Kristen Springer, Faith Crittenden, Somaly Chhean, Granville Wrensford, Gian Grant, Javar Stephenson, and Dr. Marja Hurley

Five graduates from the Aetna HPPI Saturday Academy received scholarships to pursue undergraduate studies at UConn: (seated, from left) Kristen Springer, Faith Crittenden, Somaly Chhean, (standing, from left) HCOP Associate Director Granville Wrensford, Gian Grant, Javar Stephenson, and Dr. Marja Hurley, HCOP director.

Photo by Janine Gelineau

Posted at 01:09 PM

January 08, 2010

White House Reception

It was a great honor for me this week to be surrounded by a group of recognized educators and to have the privilege of meeting President Obama during an inspiring awards ceremony at the White House.

Mentoring aspiring physicians and researchers continues to be one of the most gratifying aspects of my career. I accepted the Presidential Award of Excellence on behalf of all the students I have had the privilege of mentoring through the years.


Posted at 12:42 PM

November 24, 2009

Academic Plan Is Completed

I am very grateful to all who contributed to the completion of the School of Medicine’s Academic Plan, particularly those who served on the ad-hoc committee over the past few months: Marja Hurley, M.D., Charles Huntington, P.A., M.P.H., Bruce Koeppen, M.D., Ph.D., Marc Lalande, Ph.D., Carolyn Lyle, Adam Silverman, M.D., and Gerald Maxwell, Ph.D.

As you may recall, creation of the Academic Plan followed Provost Nicholls’ call for all Schools within the University to develop plans that were modeled on the structure and format of the University's Academic Plan.

Posted at 03:14 PM

August 20, 2009

Academic Plan

Provost Nicholls has asked each of the Schools of the University to develop an academic plan modeled on the structure and format of the University Academic Plan. This document is expected to set a vision for the School of Medicine that will inform subsequent more fine grained strategic planning efforts.

In late June, I charged a small committee composed of Dr. Adam Silverman, Dr. Marja Hurley, Dr. Bruce Koeppen, Dr. Marc Lalande, Charles Huntington, Carolyn Lyle and Dr. Gerry Maxwell to compose a draft framework of a plan for the School of Medicine that would subsequently go through the following review process:

1) Initial review and changes by elected governance of the School of Medicine (Councils and the Oversight Committee)

2) Review by the faculty of the School of Medicine with changes submitted to the respective SOM Councils

3) Final review by the School of Medicine Councils

The first step of the process has recently been completed. I encourage you to review the second draft of the School of Medicine Academic Plan that incorporates initial comments from Council members. I would also encourage you to review the UConn Academic Plan to appreciate the context and the very specific format required. Please take a look at the University Plan before you read the School of Medicine draft.

Please provide suggestions and comments on this draft to the respective Councils and send a copy to Dr. Maxwell at gmaxwell@uchc.edu. Comments and suggestions are appreciated and should be forwarded by September 9.

Your participation and input in this process is very important! This document focuses on our vision and is the starting point for our strategic planning processes as we move forward. Please be aware that this is an academic plan that covers education and research only. Clinical matters will be dealt with in a separate document.

Thank you.

Posted at 11:18 AM

June 08, 2009

Dr. Bruce E. Gould Receives Faculty Recognition Award

Photo of Dr. Bruce E. Gould

Dr. Bruce E. Gould

Congratulations to Dr. Bruce E. Gould who was awarded the UConn Health Center Board of Directors Faculty Recognition Award. Established in 2003, the award recognizes and celebrates excellence in faculty members.

Dr. Gould, professor and associate dean for primary care at the UConn School of Medicine, has earned a reputation as an advocate for public health, primary care and preventative medicine. He also serves as director of the Connecticut Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Program, medical director of Hartford’s Department of Health and Human Services, and medical director of the Burgdorf Health Center, a community clinic serving the underserved population in Hartford’s north end. A primary care general internist, Dr. Gould also is the founder of and adviser to the Mobile Free Migrant Farm Workers Clinic, which has served Connecticut’s migrant farm worker population since 1998.

Dr. Gould is involved in the development and delivery of the medical school’s quality improvement and patient safety curriculum, as well as its nutrition curriculum. He helped establish UConn’s Urban Service Track, a special mentorship program designed to produce doctors, dentists, nurses and pharmacists committed to serving Connecticut’s urban underserved populations, and the Youth Health Services Corps, a nationally recognized recruitment program that trains and places high school students as volunteers in various health care agencies.

Posted at 08:42 AM

June 02, 2009

Commencement Thoughts

I was truly honored and proud to participate in the Health Center’s Commencement exercises for the first time as Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Connecticut. The School of Medicine and the School of Dental Medicine graduated women and men who were trained by the finest faculty, inspired by their fellow students, and supported by family and friends. These new physicians and dentists embark on a journey well prepared to tackle the challenging face of modern healthcare. I hope they will continue to be passionate about their work, be open to new ideas, and be generous to the people who need them. As caretakers of patients, our goal is to heal some, help many, but comfort all.

The Graduate School also participated in the ceremony, and for the first time, Ph.D. students graduated alongside their physician and dentist colleagues. As someone who has obtained a Ph.D., I well know what a grueling and uncertain task it is. The average student now spends between five and seven years completing their degree. As they embark upon careers of scientific inquiry, I wish them well.

Click on the small images for larger views.

Posted at 01:33 PM

April 01, 2009

Congratulations to Kimberly Ruscher, M.D., M.P.H.

Photo of Kimberly Ruscher, M.D., M.P.H.

Kimberly Ruscher, M.D., M.P.H.

Congratulations to Kimberly Ruscher, M.D., M.P.H., who was awarded a Resident and Associate Society of the American College of Surgeons Leadership Scholarship. The scholarship covers one of several ACS courses and is awarded to only three young surgeons in the United States who best exemplify an important mission of RAS--developing future leaders for the field of surgery. Dr. Ruscher is a PGY-3 resident in General Surgery.

Posted at 08:35 AM

March 24, 2009

Clinical Career Day

Last Friday, I was asked to be the keynote speaker at Clinical Career Day. Not knowing what to expect, I was very impressed to find approximately 320 students from over 21 high schools in Connecticut and Massachusetts waiting to hear me speak in the Massey and Patterson Auditoriums. The students who participated in Clinical Career Day had the opportunity to ask questions, explore career choices at various booths and participated in breakout sessions that provided information on topics such as rehabilitation services, diagnostic imaging, anatomic pathology and dentistry. Some students even got a chance to go the Operating Room area to view a demonstration of a heart-lung machine and to learn about perfusionist training. I believe this is a fantastic way to introduce high school students to health professions in a fun and interactive environment and an important component of our educational mission as an academic medical center.

Dr. Laurencin

Welcoming remarks for the high school students who joined us for Clinical Career Day on March 20.

Sabine Bredefeld

Sabine Bredefeld, a CTMR tech in the Department of Diagnostic Imaging and Therapeutics, explains CT scan imaging to students from New Britain High School.

Posted at 04:24 PM

March 19, 2009

Match Day

Today, seventy-four students at the UConn School of Medicine participated in Match Day, a defining day in their careers. These graduating students found out where they will serve their first few years as a hospital intern and resident. It was an outstanding success for our medical students as 94.6 percent of those seeking residences were matched with some of the most prestigious programs in the country. Sixty-five percent of the class, 48 of the 74 students, were matched with residency programs in New England, with 32 remaining in Connecticut. I extend my congratulations and best wishes to the medical students as they begin the next step of their medical training.

Posted at 02:51 PM

March 18, 2009

Medical Students Receive National Award

I am proud to announce that the UConn chapter of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), the nation’s largest, independent medical student organization, has been awarded the prestigious 2009 Paul R. Wright Award for Excellence in Medical Education. The award was presented at AMSA's 59th Annual Convention in Arlington, Virginia last week. This is the first time UConn has received this prestigious award. AMSA established the Paul R. Wright Award to recognize a medical school, chosen by the nation's medical students, whose exemplary achievements in medical education foster the development of socially responsive physicians. The area of concentration changes each year to reflect a different dimension of medical education. The emphasis of the 2009 award is Local Advocacy and Activism.

UConn was awarded for its initiative toward achieving quality, affordable, health care for all. Medical students Erica Hinz, Teresa Doucet, Shan Shan Jiang, and Shubha Venkatesh spent a year planning the event. Held last October, their event “Projections: The Faces of Hartford,” not only raised awareness within the community but has provided essential leadership training for local medical students. The event gathered a cross-section of the Hartford community, consisting of health care providers, students from a wide range of disciplines including the health professions, state senators, city officials, teachers, community leaders, and those from the creative community. Congratulations!

Winners of the 2009 Paul R. Wright Award for Excellence in Medical Education

Winners of the 2009 Paul R. Wright Award for Excellence in Medical Education. From left to right: Erica Hinz, Shan Shan Jiang, and Shubha Venkatesh, and Teresa Doucet.

Posted at 02:32 PM

February 25, 2009

Medical/Dental Student Scientific Research Day

The nineteenth annual Medical/Dental Student Scientific Research Day was held Monday, February 23. Oral and poster presentations of summer research projects were highlighted by the students. The fact that our students conduct basic science and clinical research projects help to make our Health Center a “super” academic center, and strengthens our commitment to research as an integral and vital educational component of both schools. I remember how excited I was when I presented my first project and how the experience catalyzed my research interests. As one of my mentors once told me, “To know the literature, you must be the literature.” Congratulations to all the medical and dental students who participated in this rewarding experience.

Medical student Tariq Lescouflair discusses his research findings.
Medical student Tariq Lescouflair discusses his research findings.

Dental student Vina Zinn explains the findings of her study to me.
Dental student Vina Zinn explains the findings of her study to me.

Posted at 02:25 PM