Month: May 2018

CICATS Research Staff Present Poster at UConn Center for mHealth and Social Media Conference

In mid-May, CICATS staff Dr. Helen Wu and Megan Wing attended the UConn Center For mHealth and Social Media Conference. The topic of the conference was Digital Health at the Intersection of Academia and Industry and featured engaging remarks on issues such as app development, the use of virtual reality in health care, and online research networks. Dr. Wu and Megan presented a poster about CICATS Just Us Moving Project (JUMP) which aims to improve diabetes control by reducing the hemoglobin A1C levels of people in African/Black and Hispanic/Latino American communities by encouraging increased physical activity. JUMP utilizes a mobile health tool called Fitabase and is considering development of an app.

MIT Black Graduate Celebration

CICATS CEO Dr. Cato Laurencin was the keynote speaker at MIT’s 2018 Black Graduate Celebration.  The theme was The Road to 50: Dedication, Perseverance, Excellence and the accomplishments of the Class of 2018 graduates, both undergraduates and graduate students, were acknowledged.

“Dr. Laurencin spoke of a myriad of things, interweaving presentation of his groundbreaking medical research, with words of wisdom and words to live by,” said Michelle Harton, leader of the Black Graduation Celebration. “To this, he shared with us parts of his personal life as he shared wisdom learned from his family, the students that he mentors and supports and, even his creation of the Regenerative Engineering Society. With humor and transformative insight, let me not leave out his experiences as being the ring side doctor for fights, he even shared lessons learned from Mike Tyson. We appreciated all he had to share.”

A report of the event is available online.

YIIP Scholar Defends Dissertation

CICATS Young Innovative Investigator Program Scholar Archibald Agyekum-Yamoah has successfully defended his dissertation titled, Understanding How the Costimulatory Molecule OX40 Engagement on T Cells Can Boost Immune Responses for Vaccine Applications and Immunotherapy. CICATS sends him a big congratulations and we look forward to seeing what he does next.

May Science Cafe Brings Together Researchers, Community Providers & Stakeholders

Our May Science Cafe was hosted by Dr. Damion Grasso and brought together 75+ people interested in family violence research and intervention. The cafe featured a series of “flash talks” including:

  • The Children’s Center on Family Violence. Nina Livingston, MD, Co-Director, Children’s Center on Family Violence, Office of Community Child Health, CT Children’s Medical Center.
  • Connecticut Children’s Suspected Child Abuse & Neglect (SCAN) Program. Nina Livingston, MD, Medical Director, Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect Program, CT Children’s Medical Center.
  • Evidence-Based Interventions for Treating Mental Health Problems in Violence-Exposed Children. Jason Lang, PhD, Vice President for Mental Health Initiatives, Child Health and Development Institute.
  • Support for a Two-Generation Approach to Addressing Young Children’s Response to IPV. Carolyn Greene, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, UConn Health Center.
  • DV Shelter and Advocacy Services for Connecticut Families: Prudence Crandall Center. Lorraine Gauthier, Associate Director, Prudence Crandall Center.
  • The Problem with Dual Arrests in DV Situations in Connecticut and Its Impact on Children. Karen Jarmoc, Chief Executive Officer, Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
  • Resiliency and Mental Health Screening in Connecticut’s DV Shelter System. Ashley Bolella, LCSW, SCAN Program, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
  • Child First: An Evidence-Based Intervention for Young Children and Families Exposed to Violence. Darcy Lowell, MD, Founder and CEO, Child First.
  • Unpacking Children’s Responses to Inter-parental Conflict and Linkages to Psychological Symptoms. Alysse Loomis, LCSW, PhD Candidate, UConn School of Social Work.
  • The Scope of Children’s Exposure to DV Among DCF Referred Families. Rebecca Beebe, PhD, Research Scientist, Injury Prevention Center, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
  • Culture Counts: Increasing Awareness of the Interaction Among Mental Health, Trauma, and DV in the Latino Community. Rocio Chang-Angulo, PsyD, Assistant Professor, UConn Health Center.
  • Engaging Boys and Young Men in Promoting Non-Violence: The CCADV “I Choose’ Campaign. Linda Blozie, Director of Training and Prevention, Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
  • The DCF IPV Family Assessment Intervention Response (FAIR) Initiative Serving DV Impacted Families. Susan DiVietro, PhD, Research Scientist, Injury Prevention Center, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
  • Examining Biobehavioral Indicators of Stress Reactivity in Young DV Exposed Children: The Adaptation & Resilience in Childhood Study. Margaret Briggs-Gowan, PhD, Associate Professor, UConn Health Center.
  • DV Exposure and Trauma-Related Psychopathology among Pregnant Women. Damion Grasso, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, UConn Health Center.

The Connecticut Convergence Institute hosts free science cafes with the Kavli Foundation on different scientific topics. Science Cafés are events that take place in casual settings such as restaurants and coffeehouses, are open to everyone, and feature an engaging conversation with a scientist about a particular topic. Attendees do not need to have a scientific background to participate. Our next cafe will be held on June 8th.

CICATS Hosts Students from Covenant Prep

CICATS hosted students from Covenant Preparatory School and gave them a hands-on tour of Dr. Laurencin’s lab. Covenant Prep provides young men from underserved communities the foundation required to successfully pursue higher education, to develop the strength of their character and to inspire them to live with integrity as leaders committed to their communities. CICATS has had a partnership with the school for many years and this recent tour is just one of our many collaborations aimed at exposing youth science.

June Science Cafe: What’s Squid Got to Do With It?

The Connecticut Convergence Institute hosts free science cafes with the Kavli Foundation on different scientific topics. Our science cafe series aims to engage researchers, professionals, and the broader community in an informal and productive dialogue around an important clinical or public health topic.

Title: What’s Squid Got to Do With It: Understanding How Animals & Friendly Bacteria Communicate

Date: June 8, 2018

Time: 4:30 – 6:30 PM

Location: J Timothy’s Tavern, 143 New Britain Ave, Plainville, CT (Plenty of free parking)

About this Cafe: Bioluminescence has captured the imaginations of humans throughout our history, from Artistotle speaking of “exhalations of fire from the sea” to modern movies like “Avatar.” Many animals are capable of making their own bioluminescence, including deep sea squid, mushrooms, fireflies and more, but some need a little help from their bacterial friends. The Hawaiian bobtail squid is an adorable lime-sized ball of color and light that lives in coral reefs all throughout the Hawaiian islands. They use light created by bacteria to hide against moonlight as they hunt at night. They may seem like a bizarre animal to study, but they’re helping scientist Sarah McAnulty at UConn understand how animals and their friendly bacteria communicate! Maintaining good relationships with our bacterial friends is essential for keeping humans healthy (such as good gut health), and the squid is helping us figure out how we are able to do that.

Sarah is incredibly passionate about her research and her presentation is sure to be engaging and dynamic. Attendees will also learn about the Skype-a-Scientist Program that Sarah created, which connects classrooms with researchers.

Register: Please RSVP using this link. This event is free and open to everyone.

For questions contact

Science Cafe on the Philosophy of Science & Race a Success

In late April, CICATS held a Science Cafe about the philosophy of science and race featuring remarks from Dr. Melina Pappademos, UConn Africana Studies Institute, Dr. V. Bede Agocha, UConn Department of Psychology and Dr. David Embrick, UConn Department of Sociology. Over 45 members of the community came out and participated in an interactive discussion about racism and its impacts on medicine, health equity, and human experience. Thank you to all who joined us.

Dr. Laurencin Speaks at Stand Against Racism Event

Stand Against Racism is a movement of the YWCA which brings together like-minded organizations that share in their vision of eliminating racism and celebrating the richness of diversity. By inviting community organizations to partner with them, they expand the impact of this vision, attracting hundreds of thousands of participants.

The annual Stand Against Racism, which took place on April 25th, encourages conversations across diverse communities in the USA. CICATS CEO Dr. Cato Laurencin was invited to give remarks at this recent event where the educational system and the future of our youth was discussed.