On March 28 Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, the University Professor and Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor at the University of Connecticut, received the 2023 Priestley Medal. This is the highest honor of the American Chemical Society. He was honored “for pioneering, breakthrough work on polymeric materials and polymer composites for biologic use, and for leadership in inclusion, diversity, equity, anti-racism and learning (IDEAL).”
In chemistry and materials science, Laurencin is a pioneer in polymeric materials chemistry, and polymeric materials science engineering for musculoskeletal systems. He produced seminal research work and discoveries in patents and papers on polymeric nanofiber technology, ushering in the field of polymeric 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.