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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.
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.
I am very happy to report that we just received research award for our recent NIH/R21 exploratory/developmental research grant application to develop next generation bone grafts. The innovation of the proposal is the use of calcium peroxide combined with polymeric matrices for engineering bone tissue. The co-investigators team includes Dr. Yusuf Khan and Dr. Kevin Lo from the Institute for Regenerative Engineering. Also, I would like to highlight my outstanding fellow, Dr. Bret D. Ulery, for his tireless effort putting together this grant application. I also thank NIH for their long-term support on our research program at the institute.
In late May, I had the privilege to give a talk entitled “Moving Forward with Science” to future scientists from kindergarten to high school at the Connecticut Science Center. This year, student science projects from 31 Hartford city schools participated and the science fair was held at Annie Fisher School in Hartford, CT. The best science projects, as determined by more than 100 judges including five volunteers from the Institute for Regenerative Engineering, were honored at a special awards ceremony at the Connecticut Science Center.
One of my career missions is to ensure that young people in our community have mentors and to encourage them to pursue medicine and science for their careers. Our Institute at UConn provides high school students and college students with research opportunities in our biomedical science laboratories. Each summer, we recruit students who are interested in medicine, dental medicine or biomedical research to participate in our research program. Through extensive training, students acquire knowledge on how science is conducted and where science is heading in the future. As a mentor for many of these young people, it is a real pleasure for me to see them grow to become scientists or physicians one day.