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

Third World Academy of Sciences

photo_thirdworldmeeting-400x300I had the great fortune to meet with the leaders of the African Academy of Sciences (Dr. Mohamed Hassan, President) and the Third World Academy of Sciences Dr. C.N.R. Rao, former President) at its recent annual meeting. I discussed our new National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center application and have asked them both to join our advisory board. Our Institute has forged collaborations with institutions in India which have included the exchange of students. In addition, faculty in our Institute have been involved in the establishment of the African Institute of Science and Technology. I am very proud of our Institute’s work in the international arena in teaching and research.

Helen I. Moorehead-Laurencin, M.D., Sex and Gender Forum 2011 at Drexel University

Sam LaurencinI was really excited to attend the Helen I. Moorehead-Laurencin, M.D., Sex and Gender Forum at Drexel University. Now in its 10th year, the Forum honors the memory of my mother, an extraordinary physician who worked in the inner city of Philadelphia. Dr. Helen Laurencin was very passionate about clinical care, research and education, and served as a quiet leader for the community. The Forum, sponsored by the Institute for Women’s Health and Leadership at Drexel, is a fitting tribute to her work and her legacy. Attending the Forum was the next generation member of the Laurencin medical family, Sam Laurencin. He is completing an M.D. at Drexel Medical School, and his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering. Sam plans to enter a career as an academic orthopaedic surgeon.

I am very grateful to the leadership of Drexel including Lynn Yeakel, Dr. Michelle Follen, and Dr. Sandra Urdaneta Hartmann for putting on such a fine program.

U.S.-India Collaboration

Dr. Francis Collins

I recently participated in collaborative meetings between the U.S. and India on developing new innovative affordable technologies for treatment of diseases. The meeting took place in New Delhi. The meeting was opened by Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health who gave an outstanding lecture on new affordable medical devices fostered by N.I.H. funded research.

Our Institute has been very involved in collaborative activities in India. Professor Swami Sethuranum, Dean at SASTRA University in India received his Ph.D. from our group, while Professor Dhirendra Katti of the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur was a postdoctoral fellow and Assistant Professor with us. Currently Dr. Lakshmi Nair of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering is a co-Investigator on a major grant under the U.S.-Indo Forum.

While in India I had the opportunity to meet with Michael Cheetham, the Director of the U.S.-Indo Forum who has collaborated with our group for over 15 years. The program in New Delhi was sponsored by his organization, and we are grateful for his support.

Featured Faculty of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine: Professor Lakshmi Nair

Members of the Nair LaboratoryDr. Nair is an assistant professor who’s been at our institute since its start. She received her education from India. She did her postdoctoral training in my group at Drexel University and the University of Virginia before joining us in her current position. Her research interests include hydrogels, nanotechnology, and tissue engineering. She has more than 50 archival publications in the areas of biomaterials, drug delivery, injectable hydrogels, and tissue engineering.

Dr. Nair’s current research program in our Institute centers on identifying unique biologically active molecules and developing biofunctional biomaterial constructs as artificial tissue microenvironments which can favorably modulate cellular responses to promote tissue regeneration and/ repair as well as for eliciting host immune defense to promote tumor regression. Their working hypothesis is that bio-functional biomaterials that can activate specific cell signaling pathways can be developed and when appropriately controlled can play a significant role in accelerating tissue regeneration as well as creating an immuno-active microenvironment for tumor regression. Specifically, her approaches to regenerative biomaterials include:

A. Design and Development of bio-functional polymeric systems.

B. Development of injectable biofunctional biomaterials as bioactive artificial cell microenvironment.

C. Understanding the immuno-modulatory functions of biofunctional biomaterials.

D. Understanding the activation of signal transduction pathways in musculoskeletal cells and immune cells in the presence of bio-functional biomaterials.

E. Evaluating the efficacy of the biofunctional biomaterials using in vivo animal models.

Dr. Nair’s laboratory is well-funded and is currently supported by two US-army grants aimed at understanding the immuno-modulatory functions of biofunctional injectable materials and to control their properties to support bone and cartilage tissue regeneration. The research is also funded by CSTC to develop injectable regenerative biomaterials as cell delivery vehicle for bone regeneration. She is the principal investigator on these grants. In addition she is a co-investigator on a Connecticut Stm Cell Institute grant to develop injectable hydrogels for cartilage regeneration using induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC’s).

Nationally, Dr. Nair is involved in a number of organizations. She is an associate editor of the Journal of Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering and sits on the editorial board for the Recent Patents in Biomedical Engineering and Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology and serves as a reviewer for more than 30 peer reviewed journals. She also serves on grants panels for federal agencies such as NSF, NIH (adhoc member), Department of Veterans affairs (appointed to the Scientific Merit Review Board) and for international agencies such as Hong Kong Research Grant Council, Israel Science Foundation and Indo-US Science & Technology Forum.

 

National Academies African Americans History Program

I am honored to be included in the National Academies of Science and Engineering and the Institute of Medicine’s African American History Program. My accomplishments are included, but this website is a testament to the African American Scientists and Engineers who came before me, as well as those who will follow me. As we work to continue changing the face of those who contribute to scientific accomplishments, both nationally and worldwide, I encourage you to visit this website and share the knowledge of outstanding African American scientists who will inspire the next generation.

Induction Ceremony for the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Class of 2011

Induction Ceremony for the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Class of 2011 Induction Ceremony for the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Class of 2011Early this year, I had the honor of being elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

The formal induction ceremony recently took place in Washington DC. I was among a group of 68 new members elected to the NAE and it was a great pleasure to meet new colleagues and associates there.

Election to the NAE is among the nation’s highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. It’s a true honor for me to be elected to the NAE and I am deeply grateful to my mentors, colleagues, students, fellows, and patients who have inspired me through my career.

Institute for Regenerative Engineering Receives New NIH Research Award

I am very happy to report that we just received an NIH grant award to develop our research on next generation bone grafts. The recognition from the NIH supports our confidence in the potential impact of our ideas on the future treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. The innovation of the proposal is the use of small signaling molecules, based on cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cyclic AMP) combined with matrices for engineering bone tissue. This award highlights the creativity and dedication of our scientists at the Institute for Regenerative Engineering including our the excellent work of co‒investigator, Dr. Kevin Wai Hong Lo.

Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D.
University Professor
Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery
Professor of Chemical, Materials and Biomolecular Engineering
Chief Executive Officer, Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science
Director, Institute for Regenerative Engineering

Honored to Speak at Montana State University

On November 4th, I was so fortunate to be invited by Montana State University to give a public lecture on Regenerative Engineering of the Musculoskeletal System. It was sponsored by the Molecular Biosciences Program and the Montana IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program. This was my first time I visted the beautiful state of Montana. I so appreciated the hospitality. I particularly want to thank Cassandra Langr, a remarkable Ph.D. student at the school who was my host for the event.

I also gave a brief interview to their CBS TV affiliate channel while I was in Montana, and it is online.

Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D.
University Professor
Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery
Professor of Chemical, Materials and Biomolecular Engineering
Chief Executive Officer, Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science
Director, Institute for Regenerative Engineering

Diversity Award 2011

I was honored and humbled to have received the Biomedical Engineering Society’s (BMES) Diversity Award for 2011 at its recent annual meeting. It honors an individual, project, organization, or institution for outstanding contributions to improving gender and racial diversity in biomedical engineering.

During the BMES annual meeting I gave the Diversity Lecture entitled “What I Teach When I Mentor– What I’ve Learned When I’ve Been Taught” I focused on the importance of courage in striving to achieve goals and the importance of the mentor/mentee relationship.

As a mentor for numerous students and fellows, I am so proud when I see the numbers of individuals being recognized for their achievements. There is no greater joy for me than spending time to mentor my students, fellows, and residents. Their curiosity and enthusiasm keep me moving forward.

Thanks for your support.

Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D.
University Professor
Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery
Professor of Chemical, Materials and Biomolecular Engineering
Chief Executive Officer, Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science
Director, Institute for Regenerative Engineering

 

 

Encouraging Leadership in Medicine

Leaders in Medicine Award I was honored and touched recently to receive the first “Leaders in Medicine” award from the UConn School of Medicine student body. The award was made during a recent a “2011 Leaders in Medicine Meet and Greet” event, organized by an innovative group of UConn medical students. They organized the event to encourage enthusiasm, inspiration, and leadership within current and future medical professionals.

I applaud their efforts and was thrilled to be invited to their recent meeting. Walking into the meeting, I had no idea they would be honoring me as well.

“With this award, we wanted to identify an individual who has exemplified leadership and who has been a strong advocate for students,” said Luis Daniel Munoz Jr., one of the organizers of the event, noting that my vision and leadership firmly placed the Health Center on course for a strong future.

To me, this was just as meaningful as the 2010 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring that I received in ceremonies at the White House.

The award bears the following inscription: “In recognition of your extraordinary leadership, vision and commitment to medical education, research and health advocacy.”

To the UConn medical students: I offer my sincere thanks and best wishes for your professional and personal endeavors!