Month: June 2021

New Grant in Regenerative Engineering Awarded

New Grant to Train Future Scientists in Regenerative Engineering

Awarded to the Connecticut Convergence Institute

 

The novel doctoral T32 Program, Regenerative Engineering of Musculoskeletal Tissues: A Convergence Doctoral Training Program has been funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases NIAMS (T32 AR079114) for 5 years (2021-2026). The T32 Program goals are to educate, support and enhance the training of individuals dedicated to careers as independent clinical translational and basic scientists in regenerative engineering.

 

The program offers inter-disciplinary research training at the University of Connecticut (UConn) combining the fields of biomedical science and engineering. Faculty at the Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering who led this grant were Dr. Cato Laurencin (Principal Investigator), Dr. Gualberto Ruaño (Co-Investigator), and Dr. Lakshmi Nair (Co-Investigator).

 

Regenerative Engineering is defined as the Convergence of advanced materials science, stem cell science, physics, developmental biology and clinical translation for the regeneration of complex tissues and organ systems. Musculoskeletal regeneration is a field ripe for an inventive approach based on convergence to address challenging issues, advance technology and further fundamental knowledge for therapeutic applications. At the center of the Convergence approach is the understanding that new solutions in regeneration will take place through an ‘un-siloed’ approach.

 

The T32 Program will enroll 2 Ph.D. or dual degree students per year and support each for 2 years of Graduate School. The students will be drawn from graduate programs at UConn Health and UConn Storrs. The students will apply for T32 support at the end of Year 1 of their graduate programs to be supported for Years 2-3. The T32 Program will offer trainees a broad level of expertise in research and instruction based on the research, educational, and clinical experiences of the biomedical and engineering faculty who serve as preceptors. Trainees will become experts in regenerative engineering and its foundations to work towards the alleviation of human disease and musculoskeletal injuries by means of tissue regeneration.

 

The T32 Program has preceptorship commitments from 20 distinguished faculty across UConn departments (including Biomedical Engineering, Cell Biology, Computer Science, Genetics and Genome Sciences, Materials Science, Mechanical Engineering, Molecular Biology and Biophysics, Oral Health, Orthopedic Surgery). This eminent group of investigators, who are well funded and published, will provide the primary research training and serve as role models for doctoral trainees.

 

Regenerative Engineering welcomes ideas and research across a gamut of disciplines. The Program strengths include its interdisciplinary and collaborative research in biomedical science and engineering, interactions with diverse trainees and faculty, training in contemporary research methodologies, and experienced preceptors. T32 Program administration through the Connecticut Convergence Institute will provide the experience to recruit diverse trainees, including minorities, and implement the curriculum.

 

Disorders of the musculoskeletal system with advancing age or due to injury and trauma are among the most debilitating to the human body and costly to the healthcare system with disability. Novel treatments will require convergence of molecular, cellular, and organismic research through interdisciplinary integration of biomedical science and engineering. This T32 Program is based on the unique concept of training Ph.D. candidates in the realm of scientific convergence applied to the field of regenerative engineering to enable fundamental and translational discoveries

Laurencin Named Fellow of The American Ceramic Society

Laurencin Named Fellow of The American Ceramic Society – UConn Today

In ceramics, Dr. Laurencin is a life member of the American Ceramic Society and has lectured on Bioceramics as the prestigious Edward Orton, Jr. Memorial Lecturer of The American Ceramic Society and as the Rustum Roy Lecturer of The American Ceramic Society.

The University of Connecticut School of Engineering is proud to announce that Professor Cato T. Laurencin, a faculty member in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering departments has been named a fellow of The American Ceramic Society.

The awarding of the grade of fellow by the American Ceramic Society is by reason of outstanding contributions to ceramic arts or sciences; through broad and productive scholarship in ceramic science and technology, and by conspicuous achievement in the ceramic industry or by outstanding service to the Society.

Laurencin is known as a world leader in biomaterials, polymeric materials science, nanotechnology, bioceramics, stem cell science, drug delivery systems, and a field he has pioneered, regenerative engineering. His breakthrough achievements in science, engineering and medicine have resulted in transformative advances in improving human life.  Laurencin’s papers and patents have had broad impact on human health, including pioneering the use of nanotechnology in musculoskeletal regeneration and ushering in a new era in orthopaedic therapies. For this work, Dr. Laurencin received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest honor bestowed in America for technological achievement, from President Barack Obama.

In ceramics, Dr. Laurencin is a life member of the American Ceramic Society and has lectured on Bioceramics as the prestigious Edward Orton, Jr. Memorial Lecturer of The American Ceramic Society and as the Rustum Roy Lecturer of The American Ceramic Society. A Fellow of the American Chemical Society and a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AICHE), he was named one of the 100 Engineers of the Modern Era by the AICHE at its Centennial Celebration specifically for his work pioneering polymer-ceramic composite systems for musculoskeletal regeneration.

Laurencin has also pioneered work in the development of systems for soft tissue regeneration. He invented the Laurencin-Cooper ligament (LC ligament) for ACL regeneration, and engineered grafts for shoulder rotator cuff tendon repair and regeneration. National Geographic Magazine featured the LC Ligament as part of its “100 Scientific Discoveries that Changed the World” edition. Dr. Laurencin received the Philip Hauge Abelson Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) “for signal contributions to the advancement of science in the United States.”  He is the first person in history to receive both the oldest/highest award of the National Academy of Medicine (the Walsh McDermott Medal) and the oldest/highest award of the National Academy of Engineering (the Simon Ramo Founders Award).

A role model in science and champion of social justice, Laurencin has three awards named in his honor. The Society for Biomaterials established The Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D. Travel Fellowship given at its opening ceremonies. In addition, The W. Montague Cobb/NMA Health Institute and the National Medical Association (NMA) established the Cato T. Laurencin Lifetime Research Achievement Award, given during the opening ceremonies of the NMA Meeting. The UConn Foundation established the Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D. Scholars Award given to outstanding senior graduates of UConn’s Scholars House, a Black male learning community. He received the 2020 Herbert W. Nickens Award from the AAMC for work in promoting justice, equity and fairness.

Dr. Laurencin is the Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Chief Executive Officer of the Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering. He is a University Professor at UConn, the school’s highest academic rank.  He is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and an elected member of the American Surgical Association. He has been named to the list of America’s Top Doctors for over 15 years.

Dr. Laurencin received his B.S.E. in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University, his M.D., Magna Cum Laude, from the Harvard Medical School, and his Ph.D. in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he was named a Hugh Hampton Young Fellow.

For more information, please visit https://ceramics.org/awards/society-fellows.

Regrowing Amputated Limbs Is Getting Closer to Medical Reality

Dr. Laurencin was recently featured in Leaps Magazine where he spoke about The Hartford Engineering A Limb (HEAL) project aiming to regenerate/grow an entire human limb by 2030.

 

As a surgeon-scientist and pioneer in the field of regenerative engineering, Dr. Laurencin’s laboratory research successes already include the growth of bone and knee ligaments. HEAL hopes to help wounded warriors as well as others who have lost limbs or experienced nerve damage. Such as those with amputations or even children born with missing or impaired limbs. Laurencin’s international grand research challenge of his Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering at UConn Health is a collaboration with top regenerative engineers at UConn, The University of California Irvine, professors at Harvard University, Columbia University, and Sastra University in India. The HEAL project is further supported by the work of dedicated multidisciplinary teams of research fellows, scientists and clinicians. The project is supported by Laurencin’s large grants from the NIH’s Pioneer Award and the National Science Foundation for Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation. “The HEAL Project is a transformative moment for science and medicine,” says Laurencin about the first international effort ever for knee and limb engineering.

 

Read the full story here: Regrowing Limbs is Getting Closer to Medical Medical Reality