Awards

Dr. Cato Laurencin Receives Shu Chien Achievement Award

UConn Professor Dr. Cato T. Laurencin was honored last week at the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering (CMBE)  conference. He was awarded the Shu Chien Achievement Award, the most prestigious honor bestowed by the BMES Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering (CMBE) Group. The award recognizes an individual who has made exceptional contributions to the cellular and molecular bioengineering field, and someone who has been a great mentor to others.

Read the full article here: https://today.uconn.edu/2023/01/dr-cato-laurencin-receives-shu-chien-achievement-award/

 

Erick Orozco Morato awarded at the 2022 International Conference of BIO-Remedi

At the 2022 International Conference on Biomaterials, Regenerative Medicine and Devices (BIO-Remedi), Erick Orozco Morato was awarded with a certificate for Best Oral Presentation for his abstract titled:  Intra-articular Delivery of Curcumin and Ropivacaine for Managing Osteoarthritic Pain. The meeting was held in December 2022 at IIT Guwahati, India.

 

Dr. Cato T. Laurencin receives the Founders’ Award

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers Foundation (AIChE) and the AIChE Regenerative Engineering Society has established an award in honor of the society’s founder. The Cato T. Laurencin, Regenerative Engineering Founders’ Award, will recognize the accomplishments of individuals who have demonstrated leadership in the science and practice of convergence research as applied to regenerative engineering — a field pioneered by Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, the RE Society’s Founder. He received the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ Founder’s Award this year at the AICHE annual meeting on November 14. The inaugural award will be presented in 2023 at the Regenerative Engineering Society’s Annual Meeting.

The award consists of a struck medal and an honorarium.

Laurencin, who is internationally renowned for his work in biomaterials, stem cell science, nanotechnology, drug delivery systems, as well the new field of regenerative engineering, serves as the chief executive officer of the Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering Laurencin is the first surgeon in history to be elected to all four national academies: the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Medicine, and the National Academy of Inventors. He is the first person in history to receive 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 Founder’s Award). In science, he received the Philip Hauge Abelson Prize given “for signal contributions to the advancement of science in the United States.

The field of regenerative engineering involves the convergence of advanced materials sciences, stem cell science, physics, developmental biology, and clinical translation to regenerate complex tissues and organ systems. The Cato T. Laurencin Regenerative Engineering Society Founders’ Award will be presented to distinguished researchers, innovators, mentors, and teachers who have furthered the goals of this field. Nominations for the inaugural prize are due on April 15, 2023.

 

Stephanie Chinwo, YIIP Scholar, received the 2022 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research Young Investigator Award

Stephanie Chinwo received the 2022 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) Young Investigator Award for her abstract presentation Molecular Analysis of AMBRA1 as a Candidate Tumor Suppressor in Sporadic Parathyroid Adenomas. She accepted a commemorative plaque and honorarium during an ASMBR President’s Reception at the Annual Meeting held in September 2022 at Austin TX. ASBMR is a professional, scientific and medical society established to bring together clinical and experimental scientists who are involved in the study of bone and mineral metabolism.

 

Dr. Ezra Griffith, awarded at NMA meeting

Dr. Ezra Griffith of Yale University was honored with the Cato T. Laurencin M.D., Ph.D. Lifetime Research Award at the opening ceremonies of the 2022 National Medical Association (NMA)  national meeting.

This award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated more than 20 years of consistent, long-lasting contributions to benefit African Americans and to reduce health disparities through recognized research and inquiry. The individual may be a physician, a career researcher or a distinguished educator who has enhanced the field of research and made it possible for young researchers to be successful.

Cato T. Laurencin has dedicated his life to excellence in research, teaching, surgery, mentoring, and community service. Dr. Laurencin has had a prolific career in science, but also in service to his community and certainly in service to the NMA.

Read the full article here:EG-Cato-T-Laurencin-MD-PhD-lifetime-research-award-Press Release (002)

 

Professor Dr. Cato T. Laurencin of UConn To Receive Prestigious Marshall Urist Award from the Orthopaedic Research Society

The Orthopaedic Research Society will present Dr. Cato Laurencin, CEO of the Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering, with the Marshall R. Urist Award for Excellence in Tissue Regeneration Research. Dr. Laurencin is the University Professor and Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery. He will accept the award on February 7, 2022 at the society’s annual meeting.


Established in 1996, the Marshall Urist Award recognizes researchers who have demonstrated major achievements in the area of tissue regeneration and have established themselves as cutting edge scientists.

Dr. Laurencin has achieved breakthrough achievements in tissue regeneration, biomaterials science, nanotechnology, and regenerative engineering, a field he founded. He previously received the highest scientific honor of the Association of Bone and Joint Surgeon, the Nicolas Andry Award, and the Kappa Delta Award which is the highest scientific honor of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

He received his B.S.E. in Chemical Engineering from Princeton, his M.D., Magna Cum Laude from the Harvard Medical School. He received his Ph.D. in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology from M.I.T.

Dr. Laurencin is the first surgeon elected to all four of the U.S. National Academies: the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Inventors. He is also the recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, America’s highest honor for technological achievement. Most recently the American Institute of Chemical Engineer’s Foundation established the Cato T. Laurencin Regenerative Engineering Founder’s Award, recognizing his pioneering work in the field.

On February 7, 2022, Dr. Laurencin will be honored the Marshall R. Urist MD Award and will deliver a presentation during the ORS Annual Meeting of 2022.

Kappa Delta Ann Doner Vaughn Award Presented to UConn’s Albert and Wilda Van Dusen  Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery Dr. Cato Laurencin

Cato T. Laurencin, MD, PhD, was named the 2021 Kappa Delta Ann Doner Vaughn Award recipient for his 30 years of scientific research in musculoskeletal regenerative engineering, the field which he founded and brought to the forefront of translational medicine. Dr. Laurencin’s work at UConn Health has led to the development and advancement of biodegradable polymeric materials in bone repair and tissue regeneration. The Kappa Delta Awards recognize research in musculoskeletal disease and injury. Dr. Laurencin’s work has had great impact in advancing patient care.

“When I first started my laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1988, bone was a primary target to study and develop as scientists had just learned how to actually grow human bone cells outside the body,” said Dr. Laurencin, the Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and chief executive officer, Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering, University of Connecticut. “We essentially started a new field––regenerative engineering––and have continued to progress the field with a journal and a society, which brings together individuals from broad areas and viewpoints for the purposes of studying regeneration.”

Dr. Laurencin is the pioneer of the field, with an expertise in biomaterials science, stem cell science, biophysics and developmental biology. His work in regenerative engineering has led to singular honors. He is the first to receive 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). In 2016, he received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, America’s highest honor for technological achievement from President Barack Obama in ceremonies at the White House.

Bone Regeneration Discovery

Each year, more than two million bone graft procedures worldwide are performed.[i] Autografts, where a patient’s own tissue is used, are the standard of care, but have constraints such as requiring a second surgery for graft harvesting. Allografts, which use donor tissue, run the risk of infection, have limited availability and may cause immune hypersensitivity. Therefore, there was a need to find an alternative, synthetic solution.

“Autografts are the gold standard for use in bone regeneration, but they have limitations in terms of donor site morbidity for harvesting and supply,” said Dr. Laurencin. “There has been great interest in examining ways to create engineered materials for bone regeneration in a variety of different areas and for different uses. Some of our work focused on the fact that we could create engineered materials that are actually inductive, that is, they can foster bone regeneration by themselves without the addition of morphogenetic factors.”

To discover an alternative, synthetic solution, Dr. Laurencin and his colleagues began to engineer musculoskeletal tissues, applying biological, chemical and engineering principles to repair, restore or regenerate living tissue using biomaterials, cells and additional factors alone and in combination. Over the past 30 years, he has explored the use of biodegradable polymeric and ceramic materials for use in bone repair, focusing on poly(ester), poly(anhydride) and poly(phosphazene) biomaterials alone or in combination with hydroxyapatite, a naturally occurring mineral, and other ceramics to form two- and three-dimensional (2D, 3D) matrices.

The research showed that the use of a matrix system could facilitate bone regeneration, providing a framework which osteoblasts (cells that form new bone) may bind its extracellular matrix (ECM) and bridge bone defects. The ECM is a structural support for cells that directs cell adhesion and migration as well as regulates cellular growth.[ii] The matrices are biodegradable and designed so that, over time, the osteoblasts secrete ECM, allowing the biomaterial to be completely absorbed and only regenerated bone remains.

Evaluating Bone Regeneration

Dr. Laurencin set out to study the behavior of osteoblasts on new materials, starting with 2D matrices, which supported the attachment, growth and osteoblast traits by osteoblast-like cells. He was able to design and produce novel materials that provided alternatives to currently available materials and has continued to develop additional novel polymers, making innovative blends with other degradable polymers. Polymers are materials made of long, repeating chains of molecules and are often used in plastics.[iii] Studies demonstrated that unique polymer systems, which have superior lab and animal studies performance, excellent physicochemical properties and unique erosion mechanisms, representing a major paradigm shift in biomaterials design for regenerative engineering.

Once Dr. Laurencin and his team established that these biomaterials could be used as bone regeneration platforms, they were the first to develop porous, biodegradable 3D-poly (organophosphazenes) [P(PHOS)] matrices for tissue regeneration. Studies demonstrated that the use of a 3D matrix increased the amount of cell growth on the matrix because of the significant increase in surface area over 2D structures. The matrices interconnecting, porous network enabled organized cell growth, ECM formation and mineralization (when the bone matrix becomes filled with calcium phosphate nanocrystals), showing that these materials could be used for bone engineering applications.

The researchers next developed a novel sintered microsphere matrix, a 3D matrix with a complete interconnected pore structure, resembling the structure of trabecular bone, which is found at the end of long bones such as the femur. This design allowed the newly forming bone to actually occupy the pore structure while the matrix degraded. After the matrix completely degraded, only the pore structure of the newly formed trabecular bone remained.

In Vivo Studies

The 3D matrix was then studied in animals (in vivo) and showed significant bone formation throughout the implant site by week eight when combined with growth factors demonstrating that the 3D matrix could be an effective bone graft.

Further in vivo research examined the potential of the 3D matrices as a composite without growth factors, utilizing matrices with human-derived mesenchymal stem cells, which are found in bone marrow. Composite materials, which are composed of two or more materials, were studied because these materials can offer numerous advantages such as strength. The results suggested that the composite designed with low crystalline ceramics had inherent osteoinductive properties, meaning new bone is formed by the transformation of stem cells into bone. The studies showed the flexibility of the matrices for bone engineering and the versatility for these matrices to deliver results through stem cells, bone cells, transfected cells (cells that have been introduced to foreign DNA) or directly from the scaffold. The composite matrix demonstrated that it could remineralize and remodel the defect site within eight weeks of injury without growth factors.

“Our work involving matrix- and material-based regeneration found that as we moved from smaller animals to larger animals, the materials tended to have an ability to become more functional and bioactive,” said Dr. Laurencin. “In a number of our regeneration studies for bone as well as soft tissue, we found that as we move to larger animals, we’ve been able to demonstrate more bioactivity and inductivity in terms of polymer ceramic materials.”

The Next Frontier: Limb Regeneration

Building on his work in bone and soft tissue regeneration, Dr. Laurencin has begun to apply regenerative engineering principals as an approach to regenerating complex tissues with the goal of limb regeneration. In 2016, the University of Connecticut announced a revolutionary project overseen by Dr. Laurencin––the Hartford Engineering a Limb (HEAL) Project, which aims to regenerate a human limb by 2030. Laurencin’s ambitious work has been recognized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in awarding him the Philip Hauge Abelson Prize for “signal contributions to the advancement of science in the United States.”

[i] Campana V, Milano G, Pagano E, et al. Bone substitutes in orthopaedic surgery: from basic science to clinical practice. J Mater Sci Mater Med. 2014;25(10): 2445–2461.

[i][i] ScienceDirect. Extracellular Matrix. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/extracellular-matrix. Accessed 1/11/2021.

[i][i][i] Live Science. What is a Polymer? https://www.livescience.com/60682-polymers.html

 

Professor Cato T. Laurencin Receives the 2020 Materials Research Society’s Von Hippel Award

Von Hippel Award photo

FARMINGTON, CT- On December 2, 2020, the Materials Research Society presented Dr. Cato T. Laurencin with 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.