News and Info

The Institute for Regenerative Engineering Welcomes New Fellow, Roshan James, Ph.D.

Roshan James, Ph.D.I am pleased to announce that Dr. Roshan James recently joined the Institute for Regenerative Engineering as a postdoctoral fellow. His current research focuses on the design and fabrication of novel biomaterials for musculoskeletal tissue engineering. His research interests include biomaterials, integrated tissues, and regenerative engineering.

Dr. James received his bachelor degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur in India, and completed his doctoral thesis under my mentorship at the University of Virginia (UVa) in 2012. His Ph.D. thesis focused on the design of mechanically competent polyester-based matrices for tendon tissue regeneration. In addition, he worked on developing a growth factor delivery system that provided bioactive physiologically relevant doses to modulate cellular responses in adipose stromal cells along the tendonogenic lineage.

Dr. James received a number of awards from UVa where he presented at university-wide research competitions. In, 2012, he was a finalist in the UVa Presidential Research Competition. In addition, he was recently selected as a New Investigator Recognition Awards (NIRA) finalist at the 2013 Orthopaedic Research Society Conference in San Antonio. His talk was entitled ‘Combined Treatment of a Tendon Gap with a Biomimetic Electrospun Scaffold, Stromal Cells and GDF5,’ and his presentation focused on in vivo characterization of biodegradable biomaterials designed to mimic the structure of the tendon extracellular matrix.

Tendon gap PowerPoint screenIt is worth noting that Dr. James has made a significant impact on tendon tissue engineering. He has successfully developed a novel tubular scaffold system to regenerate a large gap defect in tendon tissue due to severe injuries. The scaffold system can also deliver adipose stromal cells and growth factors that facilitate the regenerative process resulting in new tendon tissue formation.

Everyone in the Institute for Regenerative Engineering welcomes Roshan and looks forward to working with him here at UConn.

Professor Kevin Lo Joins the Faculty of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering

I am very pleased to announce that Dr. Kevin Wai Hong Lo, a postdoctoral fellow in our lab, has been appointed as Assistant Professor in the Institute for Regenerative Engineering. Dr. Lo will also have a faculty appointment in the Department of Medicine. After earning his B.S., M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Dr. Lo joined Laurencin Labs. Over time, he has become an extremely accomplished researcher with interests which include drug delivery, tissue engineering, and bone cell signaling. Speaking for all the Institute faculty, we are excited to have him join us, and we look forward to working with our newest faculty colleague.

Black History Month

As many of you know, I am very proud of my African-American heritage, especially the successes and successful struggles of African-American people in America. On February 14th, I was very fortunate to be interviewed by Fox 61 as part of its series, “Black History is Everyone’s History”, celebrating African-American achievements in Connecticut. During the interview, I shared the story of the success and achievements of our Institute for Regenerative Engineering.

While excited about our success, clearly the story would not be possible except for the sacrifices of many, many African-Americans who toiled for generations to bring me and others “to the place where our fathers sighed” (to quote “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the Negro National Anthem). We must always be mindful of that, and be mindful of our obligations to reach back and move forward the generations that follow us.

Induction Ceremony for the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Class of 2011

Induction Ceremony for the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Class of 2011 Induction Ceremony for the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Class of 2011Early this year, I had the honor of being elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

The formal induction ceremony recently took place in Washington DC. I was among a group of 68 new members elected to the NAE and it was a great pleasure to meet new colleagues and associates there.

Election to the NAE is among the nation’s highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. It’s a true honor for me to be elected to the NAE and I am deeply grateful to my mentors, colleagues, students, fellows, and patients who have inspired me through my career.

Election to the African Academy of Sciences

photo_globeI was recently honored and humbled to be elected to the African Academy of Sciences, a prestigious organization that honors science and technology leaders in Africa and throughout the world, and promotes science-led development in the continent.

I am now one of three Americans who are Fellows of the Academy. As someone of African descent, this is particularly meaningful for me, especially in light of the long and proud tradition of science in Africa.

Through the years, I have served as a visiting professor in centers in Africa and have worked as part of a global team of African academic and industrial scientists from the Diaspora in creating Institutes of Science and Technology in Africa, in conjunction with the Nelson Mandela Institution.

I strongly support global health initiatives and look forward to working with our faculty at the UConn Health Center to strengthen our existing programs that introduce medical and dental students to vital global health issues. Seeing healthcare through a different perspective is an irreplaceable learning experience – and can deeply affect one’s career goals.

To the African Academy of Sciences, I send my sincere gratitude. This is a true honor for me.

A Winning Night

White Coat GalaWhite Coat Gala

On April 16, more than 800 men and women gathered to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UConn Health Center and to honor three remarkable individuals who have played integral roles in the success of the Health Center’s first half century: Dr. Marja Hurley, Dr. Ravi Nanda and Coach of the NCAA Men’s Championship basketball team, Jim Calhoun.

The tally is still being finalized, but it is clear that the second annual White Coat Gala was one of our most successful fund raising events on record. Funds raised will support faculty and researchers in areas across the entire UConn Health Center.

Though they need no introduction within the UConn Health Center community, it is important to note just a few of the accomplishments of our honorees:

  • Dr. Marja Hurley is an internationally prominent molecular biologist and endocrinologist with 25 years of service at the UConn Health Center. She directs the Health Center’s Health Career Opportunity Programs, which promote diversity and helps address disparities in both health and health care in Connecticut and beyond, and is currently serving as the medical school’s interim senior associate dean for education.
  • Dr. Ravindra Nanda, a renowned leader in orthodontics, joined the Health Center in 1972 and has risen to several leadership roles. He is the UConn Orthodontic Alumni/Ravi Nanda Chair in Orthodontics and head of the Division of Orthodontics and the Department of Craniofacial Sciences.
  • Hall of Fame Coach Jim Calhoun, who came to UConn 25 years ago, has worked tirelessly to support the cardiology and cancer programs. The Calhoun Cancer Challenge Ride and Walk has raised more than $720,000 for the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center. The Mohegan Sun/Jim Calhoun Celebrity Classic Golf Tournament and Charity All-Star Game has raised more than $2 million for the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center.

In light of Coach Calhoun’s recent winning streak, this year’s White Coat Gala was even more festive than expected. We were delighted to host a viewing of the NCAA trophy. It was an honor to hold the trophy – and even more of a delight to pay tribute to Coach Calhoun, Dr. Hurley and Dr. Nanda.

We are deeply grateful to Richard and Jane Lublin, Title Sponsors of the gala, as well as all of our sponsors, our volunteer committee and everyone who supported the event. Thank you!

During Heart Month: Special Thanks to the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center

Heart disease remains the number one killer of American men and women. It has touched the lives of most people in our region, our state and our UConn Health Center community.

As we reflect upon American Heart Month this February, this is an appropriate time to celebrate some of the impressive recent achievements at the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center. Under the leadership of Dr. Bruce Liang, the Calhoun Cardiology Center continues to contribute to research advances in the prevention, detection and treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Their work will improve the quality of life for our generation and generations to follow. Here are just a few examples:

  • Dr. Liang’s research into the earliest warning signs of heart attack risk continues to move forward. He was the lead author of a recent paper in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
  • Dr. Eric Avelar is the lead investigator of an exciting new study looking at new ways of diagnosing heart disease among patients who experience chest pain.
  • Dr. William White, an internationally recognized expert in the diagnoses and treatment of high blood pressure, recently authored a paper in Hypertension on the efficacy of a new treatment of hypertension.
  • Dr. Kanwar Singh is the first physician in the region to take an innovative, minimally invasive approach to treating peripheral arterial disease through the use of the new Wildcat catheter.
  • Dr. Michael Dahn performed the first procedure in the Hartford area to repair an abdominal aneurysm using no surgical incision.
  • And the The Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center has received the Get With The Guidelines® Silver Performance Achievement Award from the American Heart Association in recognition of its successful treatment of patients with heart failure.

To learn more, visit heart.uchc.edu. If you’d like to make a gift to support cardiovascular research at the Calhoun Cardiology Center, please visit giving.uchc.edu.

A Critical Triumph for the UConn Health Center

Winter photo of UConn Health I am delighted to announce that the state’s Office of Health Care Access (OHCA) today approved the Certificate of Need application that was filed jointly by the UConn Health Center and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in early November.

This is a significant step forward in our journey to add more medical-surgical beds to the UConn Health Center’s footprint and to continue to improve care for some of our most vulnerable patients.

In particular, the CON allows for the license transfer of UConn’s 40 NICU and Special Care beds to Connecticut Children’s and the addition of 10 more medical surgical beds to the UConn Health Center’s license. All totaled, this will allow the UConn Health Center to increase its number of adult medical-surgical beds by 50.

This is a key component of the renewal plans for John Dempsey Hospital, and it will go far to support the UConn Health Center’s long-term financial health. The regionalization of NICU services, as you may recall, is an important element of the new UConn Health Network.

Specifically for the NICU, today’s decision means that specialized neonatal care will continue to be offered on the UConn Health Center campus. The difference is that moving forward the unit will become part of Connecticut Children’s. Nurses and other staff in the unit at the UConn Health Center will remain UConn employees and Connecticut Children’s will lease space and contract for services.

With today’s decision, we will work toward a February 1, 2011, “go live” date with a celebration and ribbon cutting to follow shortly after.

To all who made today’s milestone a reality, particularly Governor M. Jodi Rell and the Connecticut General Assembly, I offer my deepest thanks. This is a wonderful addition to the holiday season!

Sincerely,

Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D.
Vice President for Health Affairs
Dean, UConn School of Medicine

Health Center Faculty Vote to Unionize

The vote from the faculty is in — and the time to work together is now. At this point, it is critically important that all of us, regardless of how you voted this week, stay involved and engaged in the process. It is the community of ideas that we have that makes us great, and in the coming weeks you will have a unique opportunity to help shape the union.

I’m grateful to all for a respectful and thoughtful campaign. Let’s commit to work together for the common good for our institution so we can continue to move our institution toward top tier status, toward being a destination place for healthcare, and toward being a place that is an engine for growth and prosperity not just for ourselves, but for our region and our state.

Let’s proceed. Thanks.