Dr. Cato T. Laurencin and His Team Make Groundbreaking Advancements in Unlocking the Potential of Fibroblast Growth Factor for Tissue Regeneration

FARMINGTON – Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D., CEO of the Connecticut Convergence for Translation in Regenerative Engineering at UConn Health Institute and his team have published a new article on how fibroblast growth factor eight (FGF-8) can control stem cells in regenerating musculoskeletal tissue. FGF-8 is an important biological molecule that plays a significant role in the formation of extremities during early development as well as during the regeneration of amputated limbs in some animals such as salamanders.

This historical use of FGF-8 sparked Dr. Laurencin and his team to investigate the role of FGF-8 in controlling the different types of tissue in the arms and legs. The team was able to demonstrate that FGF-8 stimulated similar signaling pathways in stem cells as seen during limb development, and was able to direct the formation of musculoskeletal tissue.

Furthermore, with the increasing attention towards the role of local fat in the knee joint and its contribution to inflammation, the application of FGF-8 may help in curbing the progression of osteoarthritis.

According to the World Health Organization, by 2050, 130 million people will suffer from Osteoarthritis worldwide, of whom 40 million will be severely disabled by the disease. “We are eager to see how the evolution of this research improves global public health.” says Dr. Laurencin.

This research was supported by the NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases under award number DP1AR068147.

To learn more, view the newly published article here.

Regenerative Engineering Pioneer Dr. Cato T. Laurencin Launches the First Master of Science Degree Program in Regenerative Engineering

Farmington, CT- On December 9, 2020, the University of Connecticut announced it will offer the world’s first Master of Science Degree in Regenerative Engineering. The program will be jointly run by the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department and the Materials Science and Engineering Department of the University of Connecticut’s Engineering School.

The Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering CEO, and creator of the field, Dr. Cato Laurencin defines regenerative engineering as the convergence of advanced materials sciences, stem cell science, physics, developmental biology, and clinical translation, for the regeneration of complex tissues and organ systems. The field is poised to make breakthrough advances, such as the limb regeneration research taking place at UConn.

“I am very excited we have launched this graduate program to provide the necessary tools and resources to train and inspire future generations of scientists and researchers. The field of regenerative engineering is geared toward creating solutions to problems that will benefit people on a global scale”

For more information on Regenerative Engineering please visit this link.

 

President Katsouleas, Engineering Professor Ki Chon Named National Academy of Inventors Fellows

President Thomas C. Katsouleas and Krenicki Professor of Biomedical Engineering Ki Chon have been named Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), the organization announced on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020.

The NAI Fellows Program highlights academic inventors who have demonstrated a spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society. Election to NAI Fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors. To date, NAI Fellows hold more than 42,700 issued U.S. patents, which have generated over 13,000 licensed technologies and companies, and created more than 36 million jobs. In addition, over $2.2 trillion in revenue has been generated based on NAI Fellow discoveries.

The 2020 Fellow class represents 115 research universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes worldwide. They collectively hold over 4,700 issued U.S. patents. Among the 2020 Fellows are 24 recipients of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, six recipients of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and two Nobel Laureates, as well as other honors and distinctions. Their collective body of research covers a range of scientific disciplines including biomedical engineering, computer engineering, materials science, and physics.

The complete list of NAI Fellows is available on the here.

The class of Fellows will be inducted at the 2021 Fellows Induction Ceremony at the Tenth Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Inventors this June in Tampa, Florida.

“At the University of Connecticut we continue to add to and maintain an ecosystem comprised of outstanding researchers, inventors, educators, mentors an innovators who represent the core values the National Academy of Inventors. We are honored to welcome these two distinguished inventors to the ranks of Fellow” says Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, President of the UCONN NAI Chapter and a member of the NAI Board of Directors.

The UConn Chapter of the National Academy of Inventors has been established to

  • Promote scientific innovation and inventorship across all disciplines in the UConn community
  • Develop educational and mentorship programs around invention and inventorship
  • Increase awareness regarding innovation and encourage the disclosure of intellectual property
  • Drive engagement by bringing academia and industry together and
  • Create a platform to share the lessons learned by the UConn inventors and other research communities in CT

Prior to arriving at UConn as its 16th president in August 2019, Katsouleas was the executive vice president and provost at the University of Virginia since 2015, having been appointed to the position after serving for seven years at Duke University as the dean of the Pratt School of Engineering and professor of electrical and computer engineering.

He was a researcher and faculty member at UCLA for seven years after receiving his Ph.D., before joining the University of Southern California faculty as an associate professor of electrical engineering in 1991, becoming full professor in 1997. He also was an associate dean of USC’s engineering school and vice provost of information technology services.

Katsouleas is a leading scholar in the field of plasma science and has authored or co-authored more than 250 publications. He has deep roots in academia, having served a term as president of the Faculty and Academic Senate at USC during his time in its engineering school.

He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). While at Duke, he also created the Grand Challenge Scholars Program of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), a program now emulated at more than 120 universities across the U.S. and in several countries around the world.

ChonKrenicki Professor of Biomedical Engineering, specializes in medical instrumentation, biosignal processing, modeling, simulation and development of novel algorithms to understand dynamic processes and extract distinct features of physiological systems.  He is currently dedicating his time to the following research projects:

  • Evaluation of the effects of oxygen toxicity and hyperbaric environments on the autonomic nervous system:  The goal is to develop noninvasive approaches for early detection of and differentiation between fatal and non-fatal decompression sickness (DCS).  Both swine and human experiments are being conducted to test the robustness of our algorithm for early detection and prediction of DCS.
  • Real-time detection of atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter and atrial tachycardia from surface ECG:  The goal is to develop real-time algorithms for accurate detection of atrial fibrillation, flutter and tachycardia that are especially applicable for Holter monitoring devices.
  • Spatio-temporal analysis of renal autoregulation:  The goal is to understand how nephrons synchronize to autoregulate renal blood flow using laser speckle imaging techniques.
  • Noninvasive assessment of diabetic cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy (DCAN) from surface ECG or pulse oximeter:  The goal is to develop noninvasive approaches for early detection of DCAN. Diabetic and control mice are used to collect ECG data and validation of computational data analysis results is measured against Western blot and immunohistochemistry.
  • Vital sign monitoring from optical recordings with a mobile phone:The goal is to utilize a mobile phone video camera to extract vital sign and physiological parameters, which may include heart rate, oxygen saturation, respiratory rate, atrial fibrillation detection, blood loss detection, and the dynamics of the autonomic nervous system.
  • Wearable devices for vital sign monitoring: The goal is to develop wearable devices (e.g., chest strap, wearable shirt and watches) and new sensors (e.g., dry ECG, skin conductance and EMG electrodes) to measure vital sign and physiological parameters for both dry and water immersion conditions.

Chon is currently a Fellow of the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering (IAMBE) as well as the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE).

Professor Cato T. Laurencin Receives the 2020 Materials Research Society’s Von Hippel Award

Von Hippel Award photo

FARMINGTON, CT- On December 2, 2020, the Materials Research Society presented Dr. Cato T. Laurencin with the 2020 Von Hippel Award, the society’s highest and most prestigious honor.

“I am honored to be the recipient of one of the highest honors in the world for work in Materials Science, the Von Hippel Award of the Materials Research Society” said Dr. Laurencin

To quote from the Materials Research Society, “The award recognizes an individual with qualities most prized by materials scientists and engineers—brilliance and originality of intellect, combined with vision that transcends the boundaries of conventional scientific disciplines.”

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

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 system 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.

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 and Engineering, Dr. Laurencin is a Fellow of the Materials Research Society and has been the Fred Kavli Distinguished Lecturer and Plenary Speaker for the Materials Research Society. He has served as the Edward Orton, Jr., Memorial Lecturer and the Rustum Roy Lecturer for the American Ceramic Society. Dr. Laurencin is the recipient of the Acta Biomateriala Gold Medal which honors pioneers in the field of biomaterials, whose accomplishments in discovery and translation to practice are surpassing and well known in the field. In addition, the Society for Biomaterials has honored him by creating the Cato T. Laurencin Travel Fellowship which supports underrepresented students of color in the field of biomaterials.

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.

ARMI Webinar Series Videos

Fundamentals for Clinical Trials of Tissue-engineered Medical Products

 

Title: Personalized and Precision Medicine Approaches in Regenerative Clinical Trials11/24/2020

Link: http://mediasite.uchc.edu/mediasite41/Play/e2d530d49c064f8baccbab5edb49cae71d

 

Title: Design and Statistical Rigor in Clinical Trials for Regenerative Medicine 11/17/2020

Link: http://mediasite.uchc.edu/mediasite41/Play/be9aa2613ebe4602bc9c5e2c597ef0f81d

 

Title: High throughput multimodal histology of mineralized tissue — Application to preclinical models of regeneration and repair 11/10/2020

Link: http://mediasite.uchc.edu/mediasite41/Play/313e0ade23db459ba8879c28a12b6bae1d

 

Title: IRB process, and FDA and Federal Regulations on Informed Consent 11/3/2020

Link: http://mediasite.uchc.edu/mediasite41/Play/4e6ea0de37a44fc2bc733891d8192bbf1d

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.