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 (2021-2025). 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

Science Café on Innovation and Inventorship

The Innovation and Inventorship Science Cafe took place on Friday, September 29th at the Lyceum in downtown Hartford. Facilitated by Dr. Lakshmi Nair, a panel consisting of Dr. Greg Gallo, Dr. Mostafa Analouri, and Mr. Paul Parker discussed their roles in the process of innovation and invention at UConn, as well as the programs and services available in their offices. Over 60 faculty members, researchers, students, engineers, clinicians, and staff attended the event. Through engaging conversation and audience questions, the Science Cafe was well-received and generated positive feedback from attendees.

The event was made possible through the support of faculty and staff, the Office of the Vice President for Research at UCONN, and especially, The Kavli Foundation.

CICATS announces new cohort of the M1 Mentorship Award Program

The Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS) at UConn, a cross-university translational institute, has announced its next cohort of the M1 Mentorship Award Program.

The aim of the M1 Mentorship Award is to develop a cadre of accomplished investigators who will participate in cultivating an academic environment that elevates mentorship to a discipline with consistently high standards and practices. The program focuses on the recruitment and mentorship of underrepresented students at all stages of the academic pipeline.

The M1 Award recipients, selected through a peer review process, include:

Jennifer Cavallari Sc.D., CIH

Jennifer Cavallari, Sc.D., CIH Dr. Cavallari is an assistant professor in the Department of Community Medicine and Healthcare and the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at UConn Health. Dr. Cavallari is an epidemiologist and Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH). She received her doctorate in Environmental Health from Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health (HSPH) in 2007 where she also completed a post-doctoral fellowship.

Dr. Nicholas Leadbeater, M1 Mentor

Nicholas Leadbeater, Ph.D. Dr. Leadbeater is an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry at the UConn Storrs campus. A native of the United Kingdom, he received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Nottingham and his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge.

Dr. Bill Zempsky, M1 Mentor

William Zempsky, M.D., M.P.H. Dr. Zempsky is a professor of Pediatrics at the UConn School of Medicine and is the Head of the Division of Pain and Palliative Medicine at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Zempsky received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University.  He graduated from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and completed a pediatric residency on the Harriet Lane Service at Johns Hopkins Hospital. 

“I am pleased to welcome this next cohort of M1 Mentors, comprised of yet another talented group of faculty representing UConn and UConn Health,” said Dr. Cato Laurencin, chief executive officer, CICATS. “Mentorship is a fundamental component of student success, and I look forward to the impact from our mentors across CICATS and the UConn community.”

The inaugural cohort of the M1 Mentorship Award Program included Dr. Anne Delany and Dr. Syam Nukavarapu, UConn Health faculty, and Dr. Elaine Choung-Hee Lee, a faculty member from UConn Storrs.

Each M1 Award recipient utilizes program funds to guide and lead the development of their mentees towards becoming academic scientists. The activities focus on promoting the development of these students starting in high school through to junior faculty. CICATS aims to expand the M1 Mentorship Award Program nationally, using this model to promote pipeline development at other academic institutions.

For additional information about the M1 Award, please contact Lana Angelo at, or visit our website at

CICATS’ Science Cafes highlighted in the Hartford Business Journal

In the May 8 edition of the Hartford Business Journal, staff writer John Stearns highlighted the CICATS Science Cafe concept and how it played a role in funding the research of Dr. Pramod Srivastava.

Science Cafes, which are hosted by CICATS’ Core Interest Groups, are informal events designed to engage the public with interactive discussions in the topic area of the host CIG, and increase opportunities for collaborative research. To learn more about CIGs or Science Cafes, please click here or contact Dr. Kevin Lo.

Here’s the full article from the Hartford Business Journal.