Dr. Laurencin Discusses High Rate of Vaccine Hesitancy Within Connecticut’s Black Community in Recent C-HIT Report

The Connecticut Health Investigative Team (C-HIT) recently published a story on low vaccination rates across Connecticut’s major cities. According to the article, “while differences in political ideologies have framed much of the vaccine conversation, the data shows that in Connecticut, the populations with the lowest vaccination rates are racial and ethnic minorities.” 

C-HIT spoke with Dr. Laurencin, who was one of the first to publish a study outlining the disproportionate rates of COVID-19 deaths and infections within the Black community. Laurencin states, ‘“If you look across the country at the trend that’s taking place in terms of vaccine hesitancy, there is something unique going on in Connecticut with the Black community. It’s the largest number I’ve seen, scanning across the other states, 40% who are waiting to get the vaccine. And I think that reflects a sophistication. I think people have been thinking about this, they need to hear from more trusted voices, and I think if they do, they will respond and proceed with the vaccine.”’

Read the full article here: http://c-hit.org/2021/08/09/communication-trust-needed-to-reassure-the-vaccine-resistant/











Graphics by Alison Cross. C-HIT.

Professor Cato T. Laurencin Has Been Elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Dr. Laurencin is the first surgeon in history to be elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Academy of Inventors.

FARMINGTON, CT– On April 26, 2021 the National Academy of Sciences announced that Dr. Cato T. Laurencin was elected as a new member, making him the first surgeon to be elected to membership in the three National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

Laurencin is known as a world leader in biomaterials, polymeric materials science, nanotechnology, stem cell science, drug delivery systems, and a field he has pioneered, regenerative engineering. His breakthrough achievements in science, engineering and medicine have resulted in transformative advances in improving human life.  Laurencin’s papers and patents have had broad impact on human health, including pioneering the use of nanotechnology in musculoskeletal regeneration and ushering in a new era in orthopaedic therapies. For this work, Dr. Laurencin received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest honor bestowed in America for technological achievement, from President Barack Obama.

Laurencin has also pioneered work in the development of systems for soft tissue regeneration. He invented the Laurencin-Cooper ligament (LC ligament) for ACL regeneration, and engineered grafts for shoulder rotator cuff tendon repair and regeneration. National Geographic Magazine featured the LC Ligament as part of its “100 Scientific Discoveries that Changed the World” edition. Dr. Laurencin 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.”  He is the first person in history to receive both 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).

A role model in science and champion of social justice, Laurencin has two awards named in his honor. The Society for Biomaterials established The Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D. Travel Fellowship given at its opening ceremonies. In addition, The W. Montague Cobb/NMA Health Institute and the National Medical Association (NMA) established the Cato T. Laurencin Lifetime Research Achievement Award, given during the opening ceremonies of the NMA Meeting. He received the 2020 Herbert W. Nickens Award from the AAMC for work in promoting justice, equity and fairness.

Dr. Laurencin is the Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Chief Executive Officer of the Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering. He is a University Professor at UConn, the school’s highest academic rank.  He is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and an elected member of the American Surgical Association. He has been named to the list of America’s Top Doctors for the past consecutive 15 years.

Dr. 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 where he was named a Hugh Hampton Young Fellow.

Organizations Consider Adopting Dr. Laurencin’s IDEAL Pathway for Creating a Fair and Just Society

Farmington, CT- In receiving the Herbert W. Nickens Award for Social Justice from the American Association of Medical Colleges in December, 2020, Dr. Laurencin, University Professor and Van Dusen Distinguished Professor at UConn, presented his vision for the creation of a fair and just society.  Dr. Cato T. Laurencin described the IDEAL Pathway, characterized by inclusion, diversity, equity, anti-racism, and learning (IDEAL).

Various organizations are looking closely at adopting the IDEAL Pathway approach as they work create or enhance intentional systems that promote diversity.

Dr. Laurencin states “Part of the impetus for the IDEAL Path is my belief that to truly have an inclusive society we must address racism, and be open to creating an environment of learning for all.”

Most recently, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AICHE) adopted the IDEAL Pathway as their diversity platform. They stated, “AIChE is committed to promoting a fair, just, and equitable profession and society. Groups that have faced discrimination continue to encounter challenges when entering into or participating in engineering and science professions. We encourage inclusion and intentional representation of people from diverse backgrounds and experiences because it is ethical and honorable, and it enhances the innovation and creativity necessary to find solutions to current and future challenges. We aim to eliminate disparities in treatment, racism, and any form of discrimination from our profession — recognizing that specialized strategies will be required for distinct groups, and that long-standing narratives will need to be combated. As members of our AIChE Community, we have an obligation to support and celebrate our advancement along an IDEAL path.”

Dr. Laurencin stated “I hope to be able to work with individuals across the country in the area of inclusion, diversity, equity, anti-racism, and learning, as we put into place an IDEAL path for achieving a better society.”

For more information on the IDEAL Pathway, click here for a short video.

Dr. Chia-Ling Kuo Receives Supplement to Continue Research on Alzheimer’s Disease

We are proud to announce that Chia-Ling Kuo, Ph.D., a Biostatistician at the Connecticut Convergence Institute has made almost every major headline due to her recent paper published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences. Her latest publication shows that there is a gene linked to dementia which increases the risk of developing severe symptoms of COVID-19.

Read more about Dr. Kuo’s discoveries on any of the following:




UConn Today




The Daily Beast

The Sun



On behalf of the Connecticut Convergence Institute we congratulate Dr. Kuo on her major achievement!

Dr. Grady’s High School Mentee Publishes First Peer Reviewed Paper

Dr. James Grady, Assistant Director of the Connecticut Convergence Institute, Biostatistics Center is proud to announce that one of his Mentees, Rachel Brooks, of Christian Heritage High School published her first paper entitled “Prevalence of gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, autonomic and allergic manifestations in hospitalized patients with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome: a case-control study” in the peer-reviewed journal Rheumatology. Published by Oxford University Press, Rheumatology is one of two official journals of the British Society for Rheumatology.

Rachel decided to publish this paper after her research took first place at the 2020 CT Junior Science and Humanities Symposium Oral Research Competition, and more recently, her abstract was featured at the international Ehlers-Danlos Society ECHO Scientific Summit for Medical Professionals.

She began her medical research study in 2019. After independently developing a research plan and aims, she reached out to Dr. Grady, and he agreed to mentor her as she learned SAS statistical analysis software programming.

Rachel’s interest in Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) peaked because the group of rare connective tissue disorders runs in her family. In the past, a number of small cohort studies and previous observations have suggested a potential association between EDS and additional abnormalities affecting the digestive, cardiovascular, autonomic, and immune systems. Due to the nature of these small sample sizes and their fragmented, sometimes contradictory findings, prior to her study, an incomplete understanding of the true prevalence and frequency of these conditions in EDS patients remained. To provide a more cohesive and definitive picture—using a larger sample size and looking at a wider range of conditions—her project sought to explore whether a diagnosis of EDS is associated with a higher prevalence of gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, autonomic, and allergic manifestations.

“It is my hope that my research and words will reach physicians, patients with EDS, and undiagnosed individuals suffering from unexplained comorbidities or searching for more definitive answers.” says Rachel

Rachel’s research found a higher prevalence of these conditions in EDS patients. These findings should prompt physicians in hospital settings to consider connective tissue abnormalities in patients presenting with multiple unexplained conditions.

Landmark Publication The Impacts of Racism and Bias on Black People Pursuing Careers in Science, Engineering, and Medicine from the National Academies Press Announced by Dr. Cato T. Laurencin During His 2020 Herbert W. Nickens Lecture

NAtl Academies workshop proceedings image


The National Academies Press released a benchmark publication entitled The Impacts of Racism and Bias on Black People Pursuing Careers in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Proceedings of a Workshop, edited by The National Academies Roundtable on Black Men and Black Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine Chair, Dr. Cato T. Laurencin.

There has been a growing understanding of the effects of racism in driving the underrepresentation of Blacks in Science, Engineering and Medicine. The workshop explored multiple aspects of racism and bias, trends in Black Americans’ enrollment in medical school and representation among faculty, and the role of structural racism in COVID-19’s disparate impacts, among other topics. The publication represents proceedings of the workshop conducted by the National Academies Roundtable on Black Men and Black Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine.

The National Academies Roundtable on Black Men and Black Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine focuses on the challenges and opportunities encountered by Black men and women as they navigate the pathways from K-12 and postsecondary education to careers in science, engineering, and medicine.