Month: November 2019

The CT Convergence Institute Hosts Health Café on Master’s Program in Clinical and Translational Research

11.22 Health Cafe


On Friday, November 22nd The Connecticut Convergence Institute hosted a Health Café on the Master’s Program in Clinical and Translational Research. Program leadership, Dr. Cato Laurencin and Dr. Howard Tennen provided an overview, admission criteria, a layout of the course of study and discussed the benefits of joining. In addition, program graduates, Drs. Adam Matson and Christopher Morosky shared their career progression and how their futures were brightened by graduating from the program.

The Master’s program in Clinical and Translational Research is designed to prepare health care professionals with the academic and research skills needed to be independent researchers. The program focuses on the preparation of individuals with established, terminal degrees in a health related field to conduct independent research in the translation of information from the basic sciences to the community. Graduates are prepared to fulfill roles as researchers, teachers, public health administrators, clinicians, and industry employees competent to carry out the broad health mission of the State of Connecticut.

We would like to thank the Aetna Foundation for making this event possible.

Guleid Awale and Kenneth Ogueri Represent The CT Convergence Institute at NOBCChE’s Annual Conference

NOBBChE Conference


Early this week Guleid Awale and Kenneth Ogueri, graduate students of The CT Convergence Institute, attended NOBCChE’s 46th Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. The students managed a booth during the career fair in which they represented the institute and interacted with a diverse pool of high quality students in STEM related fields. In addition they both presented

Each year, the Annual Conference provides opportunities for networking and mentorship between students of all levels and professionals. In addition, the conference provides opportunities for scientific dialogue through technical programming, as well as professional development opportunities for students and early/mid-career professionals. The conference is a venue for celebrating the history of the organization, as well as the achievements of its members. NOBCChE is a non-profit professional organization dedicated to assisting black and other minority students and professionals in fully realizing their potential in academic, professional, and entrepreneurial pursuits in chemistry, chemical engineering, and allied fields.

BUILD Graduates Win First Place The Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students



During the The Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Anaheim, California, two graduates of the Connecticut Convergence Institute’s BUILD program presented posters from their summer research projects and won awards for their category! Diana Moreno of the 2019 BUILD cohort won for research she had done this past summer at UConn and Aiyana Ponce of the 2017 BUILD cohort won for the research she conducted this past summer at Baylor.

ABRCMS is the largest community of underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Students attend this conference to present their research, enhance professional development skills, explore graduate schools, and network. Research faculty and program directors play an essential role in mentoring students and learning strategies for facilitating student success.

During the four-day conference, over 2,500 students from over 350 colleges and universities participate in poster and oral presentations in twelve STEM disciplines. All undergraduate and postbaccalaureate student presentations are judged and those receiving the highest scores in each scientific discipline are given an award during the closing banquet.


Cancer Biology Category:

“Prostate-specific membrane antigen dependent health disparities in prostate cancer”

Diana Moreno1, Dedrian Barrett2, 3, Leslie Caromile Ph.D.4

1BUILDing Scholars, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX.

2 Department of Biology, Oakwood University, Huntsville, AL.

3 Health Career Opportunity Programs, UCONN Health, Farmington, CT.

4Department of Cell Biology, Center of Vascular Biology, UCONN Health,

Farmington, CT.


Microbiology Category:

“Analyzing blood cell samples for Mycobacterium Avium Paratuberculosis, a possible infectious cause of Crohn’s Disease”

Aiyana Ponce, The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX

Adrienne McNees, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX

David Graham, Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Houston, TX


The Connecticut Convergence Institute congratulates them both on their continued success.

Dr. Laurencin Featured on NPR!

NPR logo


On Thursday November 7th, Dr. Laurencin, a member of the Racial Profiling Prohibition Project Advisory Board, provided a seminar on racial profiling and the correlation to poor health outcomes. He cited several studies showing that adverse health effects are experienced by people subjected to racial profiling by police. According to the Journal of Mental Health Counseling, a study that found that 81% of African Americans who reported racial discrimination experienced post-traumatic stress disorder. Dr. Laurencin called racial profiling a “health disparity and public health issue.”

Watch Dr. Laurencin present at the Racial Profiling Prohibition Project Advisory Board Meeting here.

The speech radiated such a significant impact, that the following day the talk was featured on NPR. Congratulations, Dr. Laurencin!

The CT Convergence Institute Sponsors Urban League of Greater Hartford’s Equal Opportunity Day and Dinner Celebration


On Friday, November 7th, members of The Connecticut Convergence Institute attended Urban League of Greater Hartford’s 55th Annual Equal Opportunity Day Dinner and Celebration as an “Equality Sponsor” in Hartford, CT.  The event featured inspirational an awards ceremony for community champions followed by inspirational speeches from some of the most influential local community members.

The Urban League of Greater Hartford is a community based, not-for-profit that provides programs and services in the areas of: Adult Education; Youth Development; Workforce Development and Training; Economic Empowerment; and Health and Wellness. Their mission is to reduce economic disparities in our communities through programs, services and educational opportunities. The Connecticut Convergence Institute values Urban League of Greater Hartford as a partner in providing resourceful and life-changing programs.

The CT Convergence Institute Provides JUMP Program Focused on Heart Health to Parkville Senior Center

Parkville heart health


On November 7th, Dr. Helen Wu, Dr. Narinder Maheshwari and the community outreach team visited Parkville Senior Center in Hartford to provide a JUMP program on heart health. Attendees learned about articular fibrillation and the importance of maintaining a healthy heart. The interactive demonstration concluded with participants receiving take-home pedometers and placing stickers on activity tracking boards which aims to track their steps over time. The JUMP Program falls under the CT Community Health Science Initiative which aims to educate the community on the importance of starting or maintaining a healthy lifestyle via nutrition and physical activity.

Thank you Aetna Foundation for making this program possible.

Dr. Laurencin Provides Lecture as part of the “Thought Leaders on Diversity and Inclusion Series” at the MD Anderson Cancer Center

MD Anderson
From Left to Right Lisly Chery, MD, Assistant Professor, Urology Justin Bird, MD, Associate Professor, Orthopaedic Oncology Cato Laurencin, MD, PhD Anaeze Offodile, MD, Assistant Professor, Plastic Surgery Bisrat Debeb, DVM, PhD, Assistant Professor, Breast Medical Oncology Uzondu Osuagwu, MD, Assistant Professor, Pain Medicine
MD Anderson 2
From Left to Right Justin Bird, MD, Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Oncology Elizabeth L. Travis, PhD, Associate Vice President, Women and Minority Faculty Inclusion Cato Laurencin, MD, PhD Carin Hagberg, MD, Chief Academic Officer Elizabeth Rebello, MD, Associate Professor, Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine and Associate Director, Women and Minority Faculty Inclusion


On Wednesday, November 6th, Dr. Laurencin delivered the keynote speech titled “Success is What You Leave Behind” as part of the Lecture Series: Thought Leaders on Diversity and Inclusion. His presentation discussed new directions in the field of Regenerative Engineering and his work in building a new scientific community around convergence. The lecture was sponsored by the Women and Minority Faculty Inclusion and took place at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX.

Dr. Laurencin also participated in a series of small group stakeholder meetings with MD Anderson’s Division of Surgery Trainees and Faculty Leaders, and the WMFI Advisory Committee. He wrapped up his visit networking with members of the Underrepresented Minority Male Faculty committee, an initiative led by the WMFI office.

Dr. Laurencin Provides the Keynote Speech at the International Symposium on Clusters and Nanomaterials


On Monday, November 4th, Dr. Laurencin provided the keynote address for the 10th International Symposium on Clusters and Nanomaterials (ISCAN) in Richmond, VA.  He engaged the crowd with a powerful presentation on “Regenerative Engineering and Nanotechnology.”  Dr. Laurencin wrapped up the presentation with inspiring words of wisdom and advice for the next generation of clinicians and scientists.

The focus of the conference is on the structure-property relationships of clusters and nanomaterials, with a focus on their role in solving outstanding problems in energy and medicine; two of the most important challenges facing science and society. The symposium brings together researchers from diverse fields of physics, chemistry, biology, materials science, engineering and medicine. The objective is to create a broad platform for interdisciplinary exchange of ideas and results, identify outstanding problems and develop new collaborations.