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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:

FORBES

YAHOO.COM

MEDSCAPE

UConn Today

BREITBART

THE GUARDIAN

UPI.COM

The Daily Beast

The Sun

ITV.Com

Mirror/UK

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.

ARMI Webinar Series

Fundamentals for Clinical Trials of Tissue-engineered Medical Products:

A Webinar Series from the University of Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering

This series will inform ARMI members how to conduct clinical trials for tissue-engineered medical products. The series will cover the following

(1) IRB process, and FDA and Federal Regulations on Informed Consent

(2) Quantitative Histology in Clinical Trials

(3) Design and Statistical Rigor in Clinical Trials for Regenerative Medicine

(4) Personalized and Precision Medicine Approaches in Regenerative Clinical Trials.

FORMAT: Webinar (or Zoom) presentation for 1 hr., with 15 additional minutes for Q&A via chat. Hosted by Dr. Gualberto Ruaño at UConn.

ACCESS WEBINAR HERE

DATE and TIME: Tuesday, November 24, at 12 noon Eastern

TITLE: Personalized and Precision Medicine Approaches in Regenerative Clinical Trials

Description of content: Precision medicine entails the introduction of biomarkers in the research, diagnosis and treatment of disease. Examples of precision medicine designs for clinical research and trials will be presented. Approaches of the concept to development of tissue engineered medical products will then be discussed.

Gualberto Ruaño, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Directotr, Special Projects

Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering

University of Connecticut School of Medicine

ruano@uchc.edu

Dr. Ruaño has been an innovator in the biotechnology industry for 25 years, and is a pioneering expert in the science and clinical deployment of personalized medicine. His continued record of scholarship and innovation in translational genomics and clinical decision support. He has pioneered physiogenomics (U.S. Patent 7,747,392) based on multi-gene DNA markers and bioinformatics for the diagnosis of disease and prediction of human physiological responses to a wide array of clinical treatments (neuro-psychiatric and cardio-metabolic drugs, exercise, diet, surgery, hospitalization). Dr. Ruaño invented the Coupled Amplification and Sequencing System (U.S. Patent 5,427,911) for the rapid determination of sequence variation which enabled the first FDA-approved pharmacogenomic diagnostic system. Dr. Ruaño was a founding Director of the Personalized Medicine Coalition in Washington, D.C. and senior editor of the journal Personalized Medicine (London). He has served on steering committees working with the FDA on pharmacogenomic guidelines and as a member at the Manhattan Institute’s 21st Century FDA Task Force. He obtained his B.A. degree from Johns Hopkins University, where he was elected to Phi Betta Kappa. He obtained M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Yale University, where he was a Fellow of the NIH Medical Scientist Training Program and the Ford Foundation. He is one of the 28 alumni in the University’s history honored in the Yale Innovation Timeline.

The Connecticut Convergence Institute Welcomes Five New YIIP Scholars

The Connecticut Convergence Institute is proud to announce the selection of five new outstanding Young Innovative Investigator Program (YIIP) Scholars. These new YIIP Scholars are recent college graduates who will complete intense graduate level coursework and conduct high caliber research in elite biomedical laboratories on the UConn Health campus. Each year, the search for the next generation of advanced YIIP Scholars is conducted via a rigorous application process, where future students are selected by the YIIP Advisory Committee.

YIIP, which began in 2013, aims to provide academic training to underrepresented minority students who are dedicated to pursuing careers as scientists and scholars in biological and biomedical science, with the intent of developing the next generation of innovative scientists.

“The program provides tools for the YIIP Scholars to conduct intensive research, excel in an academic environment, and develop the skills to become high level candidates for graduate or medical schools. Increasing the number of underrepresented minority students in the fields of science and medicine is one of our primary goals as an Institute.” said Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, CEO of the Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering.

The new YIIP Scholars are:

Kai Clarke: Florida Institute of Technology, Biomedical Engineering

Tebyan Khalfalla: University of Connecticut, Physiology & Neurobiology

David Onwuka: University of Connecticut, Molecular & Cell Biology

Mylan Panteah: New Mexico State Univ., Univ. of North Dakota, Biology, Allopathic Medicine

Christina Valera: University of Connecticut, Physiology & Neurobiology

Dr. Laurencin Named the 2020 Recipient of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Mike Hogg Award

FARMINGTON, CT- The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has announced Dr. Cato T. Laurencin as the recipient of the 2020 Mike Hogg Award and Lecture, the institution’s most prestigious award that is granted to practicing scientists and physicians who have made and continue to make exceptional transformative contributions to the field of biomedical research. Since the inaugural lecture in 1959, it has been awarded to 40 Nobel laureates and 13 Lasker Award winners. Dr. Laurencin’s lecture, titled Regenerative Engineering: A Convergence Approach for Addressing Grand Challenges, will be delivered virtually.

Dr. Laurencin’s work in medicine, engineering, science, and technology has been recognized in a number of ways. In medicine, he is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and received the Walsh McDermott Medal. In engineering, he is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering and received the Simon Ramo Founders Award. 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.

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, 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 systems 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.

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.