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Dr. Laurencin Named the 2020 Recipient of the Materials Research Society’s Von Hippel Award

FARMINGTON, CT- The Materials Research Society has announced Dr. Cato T. Laurencin as the recipient of the 2020 Von Hippel Award, the society’s highest and most prestigious honor.

“I am honored to be the recipient of one of the highest honors in the world for work in Materials Science, the Von Hippel Award of the Materials Research Society” said Dr. Laurencin

To quote from the Materials Research Society, “The award recognizes an individual with qualities most prized by materials scientists and engineers—brilliance and originality of intellect, combined with vision that transcends the boundaries of conventional scientific disciplines.”

Dr. Laurencin’s work in engineering, science, medicine and technology has been recognized in a number of ways. In engineering, he is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering and received the Simon Ramo Founders Award. In medicine, he is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and received the Walsh McDermott Medal. In science, Dr. Laurencin is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and received the Philip Hauge Abelson Prize “for signal contributions to the advancement of science in the United States.” In technology, Dr. Laurencin is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest honor bestowed in America for technological achievement, from President Barack Obama in ceremonies at the White House.

In materials science, Dr. Laurencin is a pioneer in polymeric materials science for musculoskeletal systems. He produced seminal research work and discoveries in patents and papers on polymeric nanofiber technology, ushering in the field of nanomaterials for tissue regeneration. His work in published papers and patents focusing on polymer-ceramic systems inspired the development of biocomposite materials including interference screws for which he was named “One of the 100 Engineers of the Modern Era” by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers at their centennial celebration. Fundamental research on polymeric fiber system for soft tissue regeneration has led to a number of soft tissue regenerative systems including the Laurencin-Copper (LC) bioengineered anterior cruciate ligament, now in humans. His work on engineered materials for soft tissue regeneration was highlighted by National Geographic Magazine in its “100 Scientific Discoveries that Changed the World” edition. He has worked with industry on the development and understanding of systems combining polymeric materials and allograft human tissue, creating technologies helping patients throughout the world.

The founder of the field of Regenerative Engineering, Laurencin’s new work focuses on the Convergence of advanced materials science including nanotechnology, biophysics, medicine, and developmental biology. At the University of Connecticut, he leads the Hartford Engineering a Limb (HEAL) project, aimed at regenerating a limb by 2030. The National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation currently fund his research work. He is the recipient of both the NIH Director’s Pioneer Grant Award and the NSF Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation Grant Award.

In Materials Science and Engineering, Dr. Laurencin is a Fellow of the Materials Research Society and has been the Fred Kavli Distinguished Lecturer and Plenary Speaker for the Materials Research Society. He has served as the Edward Orton, Jr., Memorial Lecturer and the Rustum Roy Lecturer for the American Ceramic Society. Dr. Laurencin is the recipient of the Acta Biomateriala Gold Medal which honors pioneers in the field of biomaterials, whose accomplishments in discovery and translation to practice are surpassing and well known in the field. In addition, the Society for Biomaterials has honored him by creating the Cato T. Laurencin Travel Fellowship which supports underrepresented students of color in the field of biomaterials.

Dr. Laurencin is a designated University Professor at the University of Connecticut, one of only two currently at the school. He serves as the Chief Executive Officer of The Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering. He is the Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Materials Sciences, and Biomedical Engineering. He is a core faculty member of the Africana Studies Institute at the University of Connecticut.

Dr. Laurencin received his B.S.E in chemical engineering from Princeton University, and his M.D., magna cum laude, from the Harvard Medical School, receiving the Robinson Award for Surgery from National Medical Fellowships. He received his Ph.D. in biochemical engineering/biotechnology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he was named a Hugh Hampton Young Fellow.

The CT Convergence Institute Congratulates Dr. Paulos Mengsteab on Receiving the New York Community Trust/NMF Medical Research Scholarship

We are proud to announce that Connecticut Convergence Institute Graduate Student Paulos Mengsteab has been selected as a recipient of The New York Community Trust/NMF Medical Research Scholarship Program for pediatric orthopedic research he is conducting in the area of complex neuromuscular disorders. The New York Community Trust/NMF Medical Research Scholarship is awarded to seven underrepresented minority medical school students who conduct either a community service or research project during the academic year. The goal of the sponsorship is to enhance the promise of New York minority students who have demonstrated leadership in medical at an early stage in their professional careers.

Dr. Paulos Mengsteab received his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at the University of Connecticut in 2019 under the mentorship of Dr. Cato T. Laurencin. He was a member of the Connecticut Convergence Institute for 5 years, during which his research focused on the regeneration of a bioengineered ACL matrix. He is now a second-year medical student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai with the goal of becoming a physician-scientist in the field of orthopedics.

Dr. Laurencin Named the Recipient of the 2020 Herbert W. Nickens Award

FARMINGTON, CT- On Monday, August 24th The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) announced University of Connecticut Professor Cato T. Laurencin as the recipient of the 2020 Herbert W. Nickens Award.

The award is bestowed on an individual who has made monumental contributions to promoting justice in medical education and health care equity throughout the nation. Laurencin will receive the prestigious award in November during the virtual AAMC Annual Meeting where he will give a presentation entitled “Black Lives Matter in Science, Engineering, and Medicine.”

“Connecticut applauds and congratulates Dr. Laurencin for his lifelong dedication to the betterment of society and science. His work in support of humanity is exemplified by his recent title of Healthcare Hero by Connecticut Magazine and now in receiving the AAMC’s Herbert W. Nickens Award,” said Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont

In awarding him the Herbert W. Nickens Award, the AAMC stated: “Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D. has distinguished himself throughout his 40-year career as a phenomenal physician-scientist and a courageous leader in social justice, equity, and fairness.”

At UConn Dr. Laurencin is a University Professor, one of only two currently at the school. He serves as the Chief Executive Officer of The Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering. He is also the Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Materials Sciences, and Biomedical Engineering. He is also a core faculty member of the Africana Studies Institute at UConn.

“As University Professor, Dr. Laurencin has been leading across the university, in medicine, engineering, and the social sciences. His work in developing and mentoring individuals, especially people of color from high school, college, graduate education and faculty here at the University has been particularly incredible,” said UConn President Thomas C. Katsouleas.

In social justice, Laurencin is the founding Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities and co-founded the W. Montague Cobb/National Medical Association (NMA) Health Institute. He has received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Math and Engineering Mentoring in ceremonies at the White House. He received the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Mentor Award where it was noted he has been responsible for the development and mentoring of a generation of Black and Latino students in medicine, engineering and science.

A role model in science, Laurencin has two awards named in his honor. The Society for Biomaterials established The Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D. Travel Fellowship awarded to underrepresented students of color pursuing research. In addition, The W. Montague Cobb/NMA Health Institute and the National Medical Association established the Cato T. Laurencin Lifetime Research Achievement Award, given during the opening ceremonies of the NMA Meeting.

The founder of the field of Regenerative Engineering, Laurencin received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest honor bestowed in America for technological achievement, from President Barack Obama. He also 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.” In addition, he has also received the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s Pioneer Grant Award and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation Grant Award.

Laurencin is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Inventors. He is the first person to win the oldest/highest awards of both the National Academy of Medicine (the Walsh McDermott Medal) and the National Academy of Engineering (the Simon Ramo Founders Award).

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.

The Office of the Provost and the Connecticut Convergence Institute Selects Four New Presidential M1 Mentorship Program Awardees

The Office of the Provost and the Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering has announced the selection of its 2020 Presidential M1 Mentorship Program Awardees. The four new M1 Mentors comprise a cadre of accomplished faculty members that aims to create a national model for best practices in mentorship of underrepresented racial and ethnic students and faculty in the biomedical sciences. Each M1 Mentor possesses high caliber mentoring experience, a commitment to engage and retain racial and ethnic underrepresented individuals along the biomedical science pipeline, and a record of success in securing research funding.

“I am pleased to welcome the 2020 cohort of M1 Mentors, comprised of yet another talented group of faculty representing UConn and UConn Health. Mentorship is a fundamental component of student success, and I look forward to the positive impact these mentors will have on the UConn community.” said Dr. Laurencin, University Professor and Chief Executive Officer of the Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering.

2020 Presidential M1 Mentors:

  • Kristen Govoni, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Animal Science, UConn
  • Ofer Harel, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Statistics, UConn
  • Gualberto Ruano, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Connecticut Convergence Institute and Department of Psychiatry, UConn Health
  • Luyi Sun, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, UConn

 

For additional information about the Presidential M1 Mentorship Program, please visit our website here.

Dr. Mae Jemison to Receive the 2020 Cato T. Laurencin M.D., Ph.D. Lifetime Research Achievement Award

Mae JemisonFARMINGTON – On July 31st, 2020, physician, engineer and astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison will receive the 2020 Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D. Lifetime Research Achievement Award at the Opening Ceremonies of The National Medical Association’s Annual Convention and Scientific Assembly. The Cato T. Laurencin M.D., Ph.D. Lifetime Research Achievement Award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated consistent, long-lasting contributions to the field of science. The award was established by the W. Montague Cobb/NMA Health Institute and the National Medical Association.

Dr. Jemison is the first African American woman to travel into space. She graduated from Stanford University with degrees in chemical engineering and African and African-American studies. She later went on to earn her medical degree from Cornell University. Dr. Jemison is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine. After years of success with NASA, she is currently the President of the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence which encourages a passion for science in students and aims to integrate technology in schools around the world. Jemison has authored several children’s books and has made various television appearances, including an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. She holds several honorary doctorates and has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the International Space Hall of Fame.

The Connecticut Convergence Institute Selects Seven Junior Faculty Members as Pre-K Career Development Award Scholars

The Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering (CCI) at the University of Connecticut announces the selection of seven junior faculty members for its fourth cohort of Pre-K Career Development Award Scholars. The CCI Pre-K Program is a highly successful two-year, interactive program that equips junior faculty with the knowledge and competencies to obtain a NIH Research Career Development Award (K Award), and become leaders in clinical, basic and translational science.

Between 2014 and 2020, seven CCI Pre-K Scholars have received NIH K Awards.  Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D., CEO of the Connecticut Convergence Institute and Pre-K Program Founder and Director stated, Increasing the number of researchers applying for NIH K and other awards is critical to the mission of the institute and results in increased collaboration and groundbreaking scientific discoveries. The success of the program has been amazing and points to the hard work of the staff and senior faculty at The Connecticut Convergence Institute, and most of all, our Pre-K Scholars.”

The primary goals of the Pre-K Program include developing skills to write a successful K Award grant application, promoting collaborative learning, and engaging an optimal mentorship team to support a successful research career. CCI Pre-K Scholars are awarded 30% protected time to conduct their research, attend bi-weekly program sessions, and prepare a competitive K Award grant application. “Developing a K Career Development Award application can be confusing and overwhelming for junior investigators,” said Dr. Lisa Barry of the UConn Health Center on Aging, who serves as a Co-Director of the program. “The Pre-K Program addresses these challenges by guiding scholars through each element of the application process, such as finding mentors and writing the career development plan.  Scholars also benefit by receiving feedback and support from a cohort of peers who are going through the same process.”

The following seven individuals comprise the fourth cohort of Pre-K Scholars since the program began in 2013.

  • Loneke Blackman-Carr, PhD, Assistant Professor, UConn Department of Nutritional Sciences, Research Title: Development and Implementation of a Smartphone-Based Intervention for the Prevention of Weight Gain in Black Women
  • Eileen Carter, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor, UConn School of Nursing, Research Title: Intra-Emergency Department Transmission of SARS-CoV-2
  • Kristen Cooksey-Stowers, PhD, Assistant Professor, UConn Department of Allied Health Sciences, Research Title: Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) Mixed-Methods Approach to Examine The Relationship Between Neighborhood Food Environments, Home Food Environments, and Preschool Children’s Food/ Beverage Intake
  • Jennifer Garza, PhD, Assistant Professor, UConn Health, Department of Occupational Medicine, Research Title: The Effect of Occupational and Overall Activity During Pregnancy on Work and Maternal and Fetal Developmental Health Outcomes
  • Oh Sung Kwon, PhD, Assistant Professor, UConn Department of Kinesiology, Research Title: Autophagy in Human Peripheral Blood Cells: Impact of Aging and Biomarker Role in Geroscience-Guided Clinical Interventions
  • Kristen Morgan, PhD Assistant Professor, UConn Department of Biomedical Engineering, Research Title: Positive Neuromuscular Driven Gait Adaptation Post Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction
  • Benjamin Ristau, MD, Assistant Professor, UConn Health, Department of Surgery, Research Title: Single Cell Transcriptome Investigation of Cellular Dysregulation in Bladder Carcinogenesis and the Application of Patient-Derived Organoids Towards Personalized Therapeutics

Eliane Dutra, DDS, MSD, PhD, a recent graduate of the Pre-K Program said, “The Pre-K Scholar Career Development Award Program has helped me to succeed in so many ways. From protecting my research time to guiding me in every single step of my KO1 application, the commitment of the program directors was invaluable in this whole challenging process. The interaction with other pre-K scholars has also helped to ease the struggles of grant application.”

In addition, Dr. Laurencin is pleased to announce the selection of a new Pre-K Co-Director, Bin Feng, PhD, Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering (BME), UConn. Dr. Feng is a NIH K Award recipient whose research is focused upon the sensory encoding and processing of the peripheral nervous system. Dr. Feng currently leads the Neuroengineering and Pain Research (NPR) lab at UConn BME, which is funded by research grants from the NIH and NSF. Particular interests of NPR are management of chronic pain, pain-related sensory information and aberrations, and translating scientific discoveries into next-generation neuromodulatory strategies and devices.

Dr. Feng commented, “I am thrilled to be on board as a Pre-K Co-Director and a member of the mentoring committee. The scientific and career development trainings I received from my NIH K01 award have been instrumental to my faculty career. I will be more than happy to share my experience with and perspective of NIH’s K Award program with the Pre-K Scholars. I look forward to fruitful interactions with the Pre-K Scholars and other committee members as they prepare K Award applications.”

Please visit our website to learn more about the Pre-K Scholar Career Development Award Program.