Top Research Article in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research

 Progress in BiomaterialsThe Journal of Biomedical Materials Research (JBMR) has just published its 100th volume, Progress in Biomaterials, which features the top 25 papers it has published in its 50+ years. I am happy to report that one of our lab’s papers, “Electrospun nanofibrous structure: A novel scaffold for tissue engineering” was selected for inclusion. This article has been cited more than 1100 times. According to JBMR, the major criteria for inclusion of papers in this virtual issue was “the identification of articles that, in their time, were considered novel, original, state-of-the-art, groundbreaking, led to clinical application, and opened new areas of biomaterials research.” The editors commented “this pioneering paper by Laurencin showed that biodegradable electrospun nanofiber structures were capable of supporting cell attachment and proliferation and indicated that cells seeded on this structure could maintain phenotypic shape and guide growth according to nanofiber orientation.” Perhaps even more exciting, the editors chose figure 2 of our paper for the cover of the 100th Volume Celebration Edition.

Congratulations to all.

Image was adpated from

The Institute for Regenerative Engineering Hosts Ronald W. Rousseau, Ph.D.

Ronald W. Rousseau, chair of the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Institute of TechnologyTo further facilitate collaborations between UConn and internationally renowned experts, it was our great honor to host Ronald W. Rousseau, chair of the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. Dr. Rousseau, the Cecil J. “Pete” Silas Endowed Chair, delivered a talk entitled “Chirally Pure Pharmaceutical Products: The Role of Crystallization” in the Department of Chemical, Materials and Biomolecular Engineering at Storrs. His research focuses on separation processes and has resulted in more than 200 publications. Dr. Rousseau has received numerous awards including the prestigious Warren K. Lewis Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), the Clarence G. Gerhold Award from the AIChE’s Separations Division and the AIChE’s Forest Products Award. He is a fellow of both AIChE and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). It was an honor having Dr. Rousseau at UConn, and we look forward to collaborating with him in the future.

Clinical and Translational Science Award

I am happy to report that the University of Connecticut submitted an Institutional Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) application last week. This is the largest organized grant effort in the history of the university with over 150 faculty members participating throughout the region.

The CTSA program supports a national consortium of medical research institutions that are transforming the way biomedical research is conducted. Its goals are to accelerate the translation of laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients, to engage communities in clinical research efforts, and to train a new generation of clinical and translational researchers.
As the Principal Investigator for the grant, I would like to thank and acknowledge everyone who has been involved in this application for their phenomenal work during the past several months in getting this grant successfully completed and submitted. Especially, I would like to thank the CTSA executive leadership group, the sector directors, core leaders, and my administrative staff listed below. It was a great pleasure working with you in putting together this fine proposal.

Co-Investigators, and CTSA Executive Leadership Group:
Canalis, Ernesto, Co-Investigator
Hesselbrock, Victor M., Co-Investigator
Hurley, Marja, Co-Investigator
Kuchel, George, Co-Investigator
Liu, Edison, Co-Investigator
Oncken, Cheryl, Co-Investigator
Srivastava, Pramod K., Co-Investigator

Sector and Key Core Directors, Co-Directors, and Associate Directors:
Agresta, Thomas, Co-Director, Biomedical Informatics Division
Babor, Thomas, Director, Tracking & Evaluation
Barry, Linda, Associate Director, Pilot and Collaborative Translational and Clinical Studies
Chapman, Audrey R., Co-Director, Clinical Research Ethics
Cherniack, Martin, Co-Director, Gateway
Demurjian, Steven, Co-Director, Biomedical Informatics Division
Ford, Julian, Co-Director, Regulatory Knowledge and Support & Clinical Ethics
Grady, James, Director, Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design Resource
Knaus, William, Director, Biomedical Informatics Division
Lalande, Marc, Chair, Scientific Advisory Board
Liang, Bruce, Co-Chair, Scientific Advisory Board
Makoul, Gregory, Co-Director, Community Engagement, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center
McCullough, Louise, Co-Director, Clinical and Translational Resources and Services (CTRS)
Nair, Lakshmi S., Associate Director, Gateway
Oncken, Cheryl, Director, Pilot and Collaborative Translational and Clinical Studies
Ruaño, Gualberto, Co-Director, Community Engagement, Hartford Hospital
Schensul, Jean, Co-Director, Community Engagement, Institute for Community Research
Skolnik, Paul, Director, Gateway
Steffens, David, Director, Clinical and Translational Resources and Services (CTRS)
Weller, Sandra, Co-Director, Pilot and Collaborative Translational and Clinical Studies
Wrensford, Granville, Director, Education, Training, and Career Development
Yasnoff, William, Associate Director, Biomedical Informatics Division

CTSA Core Administrative Staff:
Burian, Linda, Regulatory Specialist
Donaldson, Trisha, CICATS Administrative Officer
Schwager, Julie, Director, Research Services
Serra, Debra, CICATS Administrative Program Coordinator
Steciak, Cheryl, CICATS Administrative Coordinator

Professor Tao Jiang Joins the Faculty of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering

Tao Jiang, Ph.D., M.B.A.I am very pleased to announce that Dr. Tao Jiang, CICATS Investigator Advocate and Assistant Professor of Medicine, has been appointed to the faculty of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering. Dr. Jiang received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering in 1999 and an M.S. in Materials Science in 2001, both from Tsinghua University in Beijing.

He then went on to pursue his doctoral degree and received a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. His doctoral research, under my supervision, focused on the design, development, and evaluation of novel hybrid scaffolds from natural polymer chitosan and synthetic polymer PLGA for bone-tissue engineering.

Dr. Jiang joined Zimmer, Inc., one of the world’s leading medical device companies, as a senior research scientist immediately after obtaining his Ph.D. At Zimmer, he played a variety of leading roles in evaluating and exploring cutting-edge technologies for the regeneration of musculoskeletal tissues including bone, cartilage, ligament, and tendon. In addition, he played a key role in developing Chondrofix Allograft for cartilage repair. Fully launched in the U.S. in 2011, it was the first Zimmer biological product developed in-house.

Dr. Jiang has over 20 peer-reviewed publications in journals such as Biomaterials, Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, Acta Biomaterialia, and PNAS, as well as many conference presentations. He has six issued/pending patents and invention disclosures.

At the University of Virginia, Dr. Jiang was awarded the 2008 Faculty Award for Excellence in Doctoral Studies. At Zimmer, he received a Zimmer Publication Award from the chief scientific officer and a Zimmer Impact Award from the company.

Dr. Jiang serves as a peer reviewer for a number of high-impact scientific journals including Biomaterials, Carbohydrate Polymers, and Materials Science and Engineering.

Dr. Jiang’s research interests include advanced biomaterials, drug delivery, tissue engineering, and therapies for musculoskeletal diseases.

Speaking for all of the Institute faculty, we are excited to have him join us, and we look forward to working with our newest faculty colleague.

Keynote at the 9th World Biomaterials Congress

World Biomaterials Congress in Chengdu, ChinaIn early June, I was honored to give a keynote address at the World Biomaterials Congress in Chengdu, China. During my talk, “Hierarchical Nanostructures for Tissue Regeneration,” I highlighted the elegant work done by the Institute for Regenerative Engineering, including my students and fellows. The symposium, Hierarchical 3-Dimensional Structures for Tissue Regeneration, was chaired by my former graduate student, Professor Justin Brown from the Department of Bioengineering, Pennsylvania State University. In addition, Dr. Lakshmi Nair, Dr. Sangamesh Kumbar and Dr. Meng Deng, also from the Institute, gave talks during the symposium. This was my first visit to Chengdu, I was deeply impressed by its natural beauty, as well as its historical and culture treasures. I so appreciated the hospitality provided by the planners. I also want to thank Professor Xingdong Zhang, chairman of the 9th WBC organizing committee, for arranging a wonderful conference.

Congratulations to Ami and Ashley Amini, the Institute for Regenerative Engineering’s Combined D.M.D./Ph.D. Students!

Ami and Ashley Amini

In June, they successfully defended their Ph.D. theses and completed their Ph.D. work. Not only did they produce outstanding research work in our institute resulting in papers published in several prestigious journals, they each competed for and received highly selective NIH individual grants for their training. Ami and Ashley are now focused on their D.M.D. program. I am very proud of Ami and Ashley and applaud their achievements.

Institute for Regenerative Engineering Receives Another NIH Research Award

I am very happy to report that we just received research award for our recent NIH/R21 exploratory/developmental research grant application to develop next generation bone grafts. The innovation of the proposal is the use of calcium peroxide combined with polymeric matrices for engineering bone tissue. The co-investigators team includes Dr. Yusuf Khan and Dr. Kevin Lo from the Institute for Regenerative Engineering. Also, I would like to highlight my outstanding fellow, Dr. Bret D. Ulery, for his tireless effort putting together this grant application. I also thank NIH for their long-term support on our research program at the institute.

Distinguished Speakers Series at the University of California Riverside

In mid-February, I had the opportunity to visit the Department of Biomedical Engineering at UC Riverside. During the visit, I gave a speech entitled “Musculoskeletal Regenerative Engineering: Taking on the Grand Challenges.” My talk highlighted the tremendous work being carried out here at the Institute for Regenerative Engineering. More specifically, I discussed the importance of stem cell technology and nanotechnology as we move forward with our bold idea: musculoskeletal limb regeneration.

I had a wonderful experience at UC Riverside. The scholars are exceptional and the students are enthusiastic, smart, and hardworking. I so appreciated the hospitality provided by UC Riverside and I’m grateful to all who hosted me.

NanoBio 2012

Second International Conference on NanotechnologyI was fortunate to be asked to provide a keynote speech for the Second International Conference on Nanotechnology held in Kochi, India. There I was reunited with some of my former students, all of whom are now professors. Swami Sethuranum (left) is the director of the Center for Nanotechnology at SASTRA University near Chennai, India; Dhiru Katti (center) is a leading researcher at the Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpur; and Lakshmi Nair (right) is an outstanding scientist who has been with me since our days at Drexel University in the 1990s. She is currently a core member of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering at the University of Connecticut. All are internationally known for their work in nanotechnology, and all were invited to speak at this conference.

As proud as I am of the research work we do here at UConn, I am even prouder of the people I’ve had the privilege of mentoring and training. Watching them succeed in their fields of endeavor is very gratifying. Seeing them together in India underscores how fortunate we are to have such an international family. All gave exceptionally strong presentations in their areas of nanobiomaterials and nanomedicine. Although we have not been together physically for seven years, we are in constant communication. It is extremely satisfying to know that, as a group, our spirits remain linked.

Honored to Speak at NIH

Last June, I was invited to speak at the 25th anniversary celebration of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). My talk, entitled “Meeting the Grand Challenges: Bold Ideas; Bold, Smart People; Organizations that Believe,” was based on my firm belief that we need those three things to successfully tackle challenges in medicine. Other keynote speakers included Professor Helen Lu, my former fellow at Drexel who is Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University. I thank NIAMS for providing ongoing financial support for our research and for having the courage to believe in bold ideas. My talk was recently placed online. Please visit Meeting the Grand Challenges. I welcome your comments. Thank you.