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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On May 13, Stan Simpson, host of “The Stan Simpson Show” on Fox CT, invited me to be a guest on his show. The program is an entertaining and insightful talk show which focuses on current affairs. It airs Saturdays at 5:30 a.m. and can also be seen on the web, www.foxct.com/stan.
During the interview, we discussed raising awareness about racial inequities in health care and how to eliminate health care disparities in minority communities. Thank you to the wonderful team at Fox CT and to Stan Simpson for conducting the interview.