Month: April 2016

2016 Joint Annual Southeast/Southwest Regional Meeting

By Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D.

Last week, I had the honor and privilege of being the main keynote speaker at a regional meeting organized by the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE). The theme for the meeting is STEMulating Innovation from Discovery to Application. This regional meeting provided numerous opportunities to learn from peers and colleagues about their latest scientific findings in the STEM fields. My keynote lecture, “Regenerative Engineering: Theory and Practice” was held at the Louisiana State University. The object of my lecture is to highlight the increasing convergence between engineering, biology, and medicine. This meeting was packed with technical and professional development sessions, and industrial spotlights. Thank you to Dr. Marsha Cole, NOBCChE Southwest Regional Chair, for organizing such a nice meeting

National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE)

National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE)

Visiting University of Sydney

By Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D.

I had the great pleasure of visiting the University of Sydney and met with Dr. Chrzanowski Wojciech, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Pharmacy. Dr. Wojciech is a world-renowned scientist in biomaterials science and engineering. During the visit, I saw the extraordinary work that Dr. Wojciech’s team has been doing in biomaterials and drug delivery devices development. I also shared about our new HEAL project at IRE. Thank you to Dr. Wojciech for hosting me at the University of Sydney. I look forward to possible collaborations in the future.

Dr. Chrzanowski Wojciech and Dr. Cato Laurencin in Sydney, Australia

The Stan Simpson Show with Dr. Linda Barry

By Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D.

On April 16, Dr. Linda Barry, assistant director of CICATS, was invited to Fox 61 Hartford’s “Stan Simpson Show.” During the interview, Dr. Barry discussed CICATS’ novel Young Innovative Investigator Program (YIIP) which increases diversity among the next generation of doctors and scientists. She also mentioned YIIP’s program for biomedical scientists, stressing the need for more students of color to pursue research to cure diseases rooted in the Black community. Thank you to UConn Health Communications and Kate Hayden for working to arrange such a great interview.

Watch the Video

Planning Session to Defend Against the Zika Virus

By Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D.

As an elected fellow of the African Academy of Sciences, last month, I was chosen as 1 of 15 people to attend the Global Research Collaborative for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R) in Washington, DC. GloPID-R is a network of research funding organizations in the area of infectious-disease preparedness. By pooling research funding organizations on a global scale, they can facilitate an effective research response within 48 hours of a significant outbreak of a new or remerging infectious disease with pandemic potential. The high-level discussion session was led by Line Mathiessen of GloPID-R and Nicole Lurie, M.D., MSPH, the US Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. My role on the discussion panel was to provide recommendations on mapping out a global plan to deal with the Zika virus running rampant in South America and Latin America. I found the planning session challenging and look forward to further discussions.

Honored at Chinese Consulate in New York

Zhang Qiyue with Dr. Cato T. Laurencin

By Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D.

On March 17th, I was honored at a gala event at the Consulate-General of the Peoples’s Republic of China in New York City. The award was bestowed on me by Zhang Qiyue, Consul General of China in New York, to note my work fostering U.S.-China relations in the scientific community. Last year, I was elected as a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. I am the first foreign member from the United States to be elected in the field of biomaterials and one of the youngest foreign members to be elected in its history. I look forward to working with scientific community in China. Thanks to everyone at the Chinese Consulate for organizing the gala dinner.

AIMBE Distinguished Leadership Panel

AIMBE leadership panelOn April 3rd and 4th, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) hosted its annual 2-day meeting in Washington, DC. This event represents one of the premiere conferences where the leaders in medical and biological engineering from academia, industry, and government gather for cutting-edge programming, social events, and a chance to welcome the newest AIMBE fellows. This year, AIMBE highlighted the Distinguished Leadership Panel featuring the country’s leading experts in the field to discuss AIMBE’s next 25 years. I was honored to be on the panel with a number of distinguished leaders in the field, including Dr. Robert Nerem, Dr. Nicholas Peppas, and Dr. Kenneth Lutchen. I spoke about the organization’s need to be leaders in diversity, advocacy, and the promotion of next-generation science. The event was incredibly rewarding.

2016 Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D., Travel Fellowship

I am pleased to announce the winners of the first Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D., Travel Fellowship are Julian Rose and Dwight Meggie, both from UConn, and Robert De Loera from University of Chicago. This fellowship will allow them to attend the annual meeting of the Society for Biomaterials, and to become members of the Society. The goal of this initiative is to stimulate/encourage underrepresented minorities to pursue a career in the field of biomaterials. I am honored that the Society for Biomaterials chose to endow and name this traveling fellowship after me. I and my team have been committed to increasing the numbers of underrepresented minority people in science and we will continue to work tirelessly in the regard. I applaud the Society for Biomaterials in endorsing and supporting this commitment.

Julian is a senior studying Biomedical Engineering. As a member of the Honors Program who is interested in health professions, Julian participates in the John and Valerie Rowe Health Professions Scholars Program. Dwight MeggieSince high school, Julian has conducted research in the Institute of Regenerative Engineering under the guidance and mentorship of Dr. Lakshmi Nair and me, gaining valuable experience creating nanofiber scaffolds for regeneration. Julian has joined the 2016 Teach For America Corps and plans to attain his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering in order to become a professor and conduct neural regenerative engineering research.

Dwight is also a senior in the Biomedical Engineering program. He is a certified pharmacy technician and an ambassador for the Academic Center for Exploratory Students (ACES) where he mentors academically undecided students. With a passion to attend graduate school, Dwight participated in the McNair Fellows program where he gained valuable hands-on shadowing research experience. After this research experience, Dwight joined the Institute for Regenerative Engineering where he conducts research under the supervision and mentorship of Dr. Sangamesh Kumbar and me. His research entails enhancing the solubility of poorly soluble drugs using various techniques such as solid dispersion. Dwight plans on attending graduate school and ultimately transitioning to medical school.

Robert is a fourth year undergraduate at the University of Chicago majoring in the Biological Sciences with a specialization in immunology and minors in molecular engineering and statistics. His interests really revolve around translational research, and recently he’s become fascinated by the immune system and how we can take advantage of it in a variety of ways. Robert is currently working with Dr. Jeffrey Hubbell at the Institute for Molecular Engineering at University of Chicago, where his project is trying to induce antigen specific immunological tolerance by targeting antigens to the surface of red blood cells with a Fab antibody fragment and exploiting the tolerogenic nature of erythrocyte clearance.

Robert is fascinated by biotech startups. In the coming summer, Robert will be working at BioMotivr, a biotech accelerator company based in Cleveland, where he hopes to gain experience in the biotech startup scene. Robert plans to earn M.D. and Ph.D. degrees.

Congratulations, Julian, Robert, and Dwight!

Julian Rose
Julian Rose
Dwight Meggie
Dwight Meggie
Robert De Loera
Robert De Loera


CICATS’s Pipeline Programs

I am happy to report the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS) has been successful in creating novel pipeline programs, including the M1 Mentoring Program and the Young Innovative Investigator Program (YIIP), which are increasing diversity among academic scientists and physicians. These programs also address health disparities with the goal of improving community health outcomes. On April 5, Dr. Linda Barry, assistant director of CICATS and director of the YIIP program, did a segment on Philadelphia’s WURD 900AM’s “The MOJO with Stephanie Renee.” During the interview, Dr. Barry shared details of the YIIP  program for biomedical scientists, stressing the need for more students of color to pursue research to cure diseases rooted in the Black community. Listen to the full interview.

I strongly believe the YIIP program, coupled with the commitment and drive of our scholars, has provided them the opportunity to takes steps towards their futures becoming the next generation of scientists and physicians. We have announced a call for applications for YIIP Scholars for the upcoming 2016-2017 academic year. The submission deadline is Monday, April 25 with the selected YIIP Scholars being announced in early May. For more information about YIIP, please contact Lana Angelo, YIIP Program Coordinator at

Healthcare and Science Stars of Tomorrow

Healthcare and Science Stars of Tomorrow Career symposiumOn March 12th, I gave the keynote speech at the 4th Annual Healthcare and Science Stars of Tomorrow Career symposium sponsored by the T. Leroy Jefferson Medical Society (TLJMS) at in Rivera Beach, FL. My talk focused on choosing careers in the various fields in healthcare and the sciences. This symposium attracted more than 800 ethnically diverse students from throughout Palm Beach County who came together with many healthcare and science professionals for career exploration. Thanks to Dr. Roger Duncan, TLJMS Board President, for inviting me. It was a great pleasure working with young people in Florida.

Healthcare and Science Stars of Tomorrow Career symposium

Convergence Workshop in Washington, DC

Convergence workshop in Washington, DCAs part of the Convergence: The Future of Health Workshop, I contributed some remarks to the “Challenges in Funding Convergence” panel held in Washington DC on March 25th. During this section, I discussed about my experiences finding funding for engineering research in the biomedical sciences.  I  shared some success stories from individuals in the Institute for Regenerative Engineering which focused on how engineers and physicists receive funding from federal agencies, as well as how they were treated by peer review at federal funding sources. I also provided several recommendations as to how the funding and review system could be changed to better include engineers and physicists who conduct convergence research.

My mentor, Dr. Robert Langer of MIT, started the session with some information about funding sources for convergent biomedical research with an emphasis on engineers, and also recalled his efforts funding his research over the years.

Thanks to Dr. Kate Stoll, Senior Policy Advisor of MIT’s Washington office, for inviting me.