Author: Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D.

CICATS Science Café on Innovation and Inventorship

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

The Innovation and Inventorship Science Cafe took place on Friday, September 29 at the Lyceum in downtown Hartford. Facilitated by Dr. Lakshmi Nair, a panel consisting of Dr. Greg Gallo, Dr. Mostafa Analouri, and Mr. Paul Parker discussed their roles in the process of innovation and invention at UConn, as well as the programs and services available in their offices. Over 60 faculty members, researchers, students, engineers, clinicians, and staff attended the event. Through engaging conversation and audience questions, the Science Cafe was well-received and generated positive feedback from attendees.

The event was made possible through the support of the CICATS faculty and staff, the Office of the Vice President for Research at UConn, and especially, The Kavli Foundation.

CICATS Science Café on Innovation and Inventorship

CICATS Science Café on Innovation and Inventorship

IRE Receives New NSF Grant

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

Dr. Yusuf Khan, a faculty member of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering, has received new funding from the NSF. The research will evaluate the impact in vitro of RGD-modified alginate hydrogel stiffness and low-intensity pulsed ultrasound derived acoustic radiation force on encapsulated osteoblast behavior.  It will also assess the efficacy, in vivo, of transdermally applied acoustic radiation force on osteoblasts encapsulated in an RGD-modified alginate hydrogel and implanted into a mouse cranial defect. Combinations of hydrogel stiffness and acoustic radiation force levels will be investigated to determine the optimum levels for upregulating phenotypic markers and mineralization of the encapsulated osteoblasts. The optimum system is then being utilized in a mouse cranial defect model, with ultrasound force applied daily for 20 minutes a four-week period. The healing of the construct is being evaluated through histology and histomorphometry.

A tenured Associate Professor, Dr. Khan received his Masters and his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Drexel University.  He has appointments in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the UConn Health, as well as in the Department of Chemical, Materials, and Biomolecular Engineering and the Department of Biomedical Engineering at UConn.

Congratulations to Dr. Khan on funding for this exciting project.

CICATS Core Interest Group Hosts Science Café

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

The UConn Partnership for Excellence in Structural Biology held “Structural Biology Meets Drug Discovery” on September 11 at the Nathan Hale Inn on the UConn Storrs campus. The keynote speaker was Dr. Jonathan Moore, senior research fellow and vice president of Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Boston. Dr. Moore’s insightful remarks on the intersection of structural biology and drug discovery also touched on targeting disordered proteins as a new mode of action. Dr. Dennis Wright of UConn Pharmacy briefed attendees on the PITCH and NPDD academic drug-discovery initiatives at UConn. The Science Café attracted a broad cross section of interested faculty and administrators who engaged in a lively discussion of challenges and opportunities.

CICATS Core Interest Group Hosts Science Cafe

CICATS Core Interest Group Hosts Science Cafe

CICATS Core Interest Group Hosts Science Cafe

Connecticut’s First Chapter of the National Academy of Inventors

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

The University of Connecticut hosted the inaugural gathering for Connecticut’s first chapter of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) at the Lyceum in Hartford on September 29. New members were inducted at this event.

The NAI was founded at the University of Southern Florida in 2010 to recognize the contributions of scientist-inventors across all disciplines of the university community. The UConn Chapter was just established with three current members/fellows. In addition to UConn, the NAI has 214 member institutions and 15 international affiliates with a combined membership of 4,000+ members. There are 42 chapters in all. An NAI chapter can include faculty, staff, students, alumni, and affiliates. To receive this distinction from NAI, a researcher must be named inventor on patent(s) issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office and must be affiliated with a university, non-profit research institute, or other academic entity.

The inauguration ceremony was followed by a Science Café on “Innovation and Inventorship,” a Kavli Brain event, sponsored by Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS) and the Kavli Foundation.

Congratulations to everyone on a superb event!

National Academy of Inventors

National Academy of Inventors

Launch Event for the ARMI’s BiofabUSA

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

On July 28, members of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering (IRE) attended the launch event of Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute’s (ARMI) BiofabUSA, a public/private partnership focused on “Manufacturing the Future of Biofabrication.” This event brought together industry, academia and government to celebrate the opening of new facilities in the Manchester Millyard in New Hampshire. Headed by Dean Kamen of DEKA Research and Development Corp., the BiofabUSA aims to increase the growth and the actual use of human engineered tissues and organs.

The IRE has teamed up with ARMI in order to pursue the science of Regenerating Human Limbs. We are excited by this collaboration and the unique opportunity to lend our expertise to our country and push our regenerative engineering discoveries and breakthroughs closer to the bedsides of soldiers and other Americans in need of vital medical care.

 ARMI’s BiofabUSA

 ARMI’s BiofabUSA

IRE Annual Retreat

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

On Friday, July 7, the Institute for Regenerative Engineering held its Annual Lab Retreat at Homewood Suites in Farmington. The retreat featured a mix of large-group and small-group activities, along with time for individual reflection. Conversations were thought-provoking, including a discussion of the work planned for 2018. Thank you to those who helped make the retreat a success.

IRE Annual Retreat

IRE Annual Retreat

IRE Receives a New NIH/R21 Research Grant

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

Institute for Regenerative Engineering faculty members Dr. Thanh Nguyen (PI) and I (Co-I) have received new funding from the NIH/NIBIB. This proposed project aims to study the science and technology which allow creating a biodegradable, highly efficient piezoelectric stimulator and integrating the stimulator with a biological chondrocyte-seeded cartilage graft to form a bionic self-stimulated cartilage tissue. We believe this bionic cartilage will be able to self-harvest mechanical impacts from joint forces, generating useful electricity to sufficiently stimulate and accelerate its own healing and regeneration process.

Congratulations to Dr. Nguyen on funding for this exciting project.

First Regenerative Engineering Science Café

1st Regenerative Engineering Science CaféBy Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D.

Sponsored by the Kavli Foundation and CICATS, the first Regenerative Engineering Science Cafe took place on July 6th at “Butchers and Bakers” in Farmington. It featured 6 exciting leaders in the field who discussed their work and visions in an interactive fashion. Over 40 students, faculty, researchers, engineers, clinicians, and staff attended the event. Regenerative Engineering is a new field which focuses on the convergence of advanced material sciences, stem cell science, physics, developmental biology and clinical translation for solving next-generation challenges in tissue regeneration.

I thank everyone at CICATS and IRE for their hard work to put together this amazing event.

1st Regenerative Engineering Science Café

1st Regenerative Engineering Science Café

 

Mentorship Science Café at UConn Health

Mentorship Science Café at UConn Health

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

On June 30th, CICATS kicked off this year’s Science Café Series with a focus of mentorship. Over 35 students, faculty, researchers, and staff attended the event in UConn Health’s Academic Lobby. Through engaging talks from invited speakers, the mentorship Science Café was an exciting and productive event.

CICATS strives to educate and nurture established, emerging and future scientists through its Science Cafe Series which is a Kavli BRAIN Event. Each month, the Science Cafe focuses on a specific topic. As a result of our previous success with “Kavli Coffee Hours”, the Kavli Foundation renewed and increased its support.

In addition to the Kavli Foundation, we thank our faculty, partners, affiliates, and the Connecticut Legislative Black and Puerto Rican Caucus for their continuing support.

As the CEO of CICATS, I thank everyone at CICATS for their hard work putting together the CICATS Science Café series.

For more information about upcoming Science Café events, please visit: http://cicats.uconn.edu/science-cafes/

Mentorship Science Café at UConn HealthMentorship Science Café at UConn Health

 

IRE’s Lakshmi Nair Inducted as National Academy of Inventors Fellow

Dr. Lakshmi Nair was inducted into the  National Academy of Inventors (NAI) at its 6th annual meeting in Boston

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

In April, Dr. Lakshmi Nair was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) at its 6th annual meeting in Boston. She is one of the youngest individuals to be elected to the NAI, and she is the third person (preceded by Dr. Pramod Srivastava and me) to be elected from UConn. Election to NAI Fellow status is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific 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. Nominees must be a named inventor on patent(s) issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and must be affiliated with a university, non-profit research institute or other academic entity.

Dr. Nair’s novel research focuses on the development of new therapies using regenerative biomaterials to enhance tissue repair and regeneration, including innovative ways to regrow musculoskeletal tissue. She currently serves as a tenured associate professor of orthopedic surgery and is associate director for science administration at the Institute for Regenerative Engineering. In addition, she is also a faculty member of biomedical engineering, materials science and engineering at UConn.