Miscellaneous

The Kavli Foundation Increases Investment in CICATS

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

I am happy to announce The Kavli Foundation has renewed and increased its investment in the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS). The Foundation supports CICATS Science Cafes, principally through the Kavli BRAIN Coffee Hour Program. These programs are led by CICATS’ Core Interest Groups and are designed to engage a broad range of scientists and generate interactive discussions. Spurred by CICATS’ initial success, the grant from The Kavli Foundation ensures the cafes will continue and expand, pursuing advanced scientific knowledge and research, especially Convergence Research. I want to thank The Kavli Foundation for its unwavering support of our programs here at UConn Health.

Regenerative Engineering Society

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

I am delighted to officially announce the launch of Regenerative Engineering Society. The mission of the Regenerative Engineering Society is to promote and advance regenerative engineering, a field defined as the Convergence of Advanced Materials Sciences, Stem Cell Sciences, Physics, Developmental Biology and Clinical Translation for the regeneration of complex tissues and organ systems. With the new society we want to bundle our expertise on a national level. This will not only allow us to enhance our capabilities in the U.S. but this will also contribute towards enhancing our visibility internationally.

The founding leadership of the Regenerative Engineering Society are: Dr. Cato Laurencin from University of Connecticut (Chair), Dr. Lakshmi Nair from UConn Health (Secretary), Dr. Yusuf Khan from University of Connecticut (Treasurer), Dr. Ali Khademhousseini from MIT (Board), Dr. Kevin Lo from UConn Health (Board), Dr. David Gardiner from University of California, Irvine (Board), and Dr. Guillermo Ameer from Northwestern University (Board).

For more information, please visit the society’s website at http://www.aiche.org/resociety

Visiting the 301 Military Hospital in Beijing China

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

On May 31st, I had the honor of receiving a personal tour of the prestigious 301 Military Hospital in Beijing. The 301 Military Hospital is a direct subsidiary of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) General Logistics Department. It is also the largest general hospital under the auspices of the PLA. Its mission includes assuring the health of PLA and China's leaders. The hospital has 125 clinical, medical and technological departments, and 4000 patient beds. The tour allowed me to see some of the key areas within the hospital. It is a very impressive building, and I was pleased I had the opportunity to tour this first class health facility.

Thank you to Professor Xiaobing Fu (Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering), Professor Peifu Tang (Chief of Orthopaedic Surgery), and medical staff members of the 301 Hospital for hosting my visit.

301 Military Hospital Beijing, China 301 Military Hospital Beijing, China

Featured Fellow at the Institute for Regenerative Engineering: Dr. Meng Deng

Biomaterials CongressDr. Meng DengDr. Meng Deng received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering in 2004 from the very prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing and his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering in 2010 from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. He completed his doctoral thesis in biomaterials and tissue engineering under my mentorship at the University of Virginia. His Ph.D. project was focused on the design and development of novel biomaterials and matrices for bone regeneration based on a highly versatile platform of biocompatible polyphosphazene blends. He also worked on developing mechanically competent bioresorbable nanostructured three-dimensional biomimetic scaffolds for accelerated bone healing. Meng was an extraordinary Ph.D. Student and received He was the recipient of the Special Recognition Award for Academic Achievement from the Department of Chemical Engineering, and the Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award for the Department of Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia. In 2008, the People’s Republic China awarded Dr. Deng the China Government Award for Outstanding Students Abroad. After completing his Ph.D. in 2010 he has been a Postdoctoral Fellow working on regenerative engineering of complex musculoskeletal tissues using integrated graft systems under my guidance in the Institute for Regenerative Engineering at the University of Connecticut Health Center. His research interests include biomaterials, drug delivery, nanotechnology, and regenerative engineering.

Dr. Meng Deng and Dr. Cato LaurencinDr. Deng is an outstanding researcher in the institute. He has published more than 20 research articles in high impact journals like Biomaterials, Advanced Functional Materials, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. His research work has been highlighted on journal covers several times. He was also recognized for his research work. For instance, in 2010, he received STAR award from the Society for Biomaterials in Seattle, WA. Last month, he won a Young Scientist Award from the World Biomaterials Congress 2012 and traveled to Chengdu China to receive this great honor. As a mentor for Dr. Deng, I am so proud when I see he is being recognized for his great achievements.

Honored to Work with the Wellcome Trust

Professor Maria Marlow of the Department of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham with Dr. Cato LaurencinLast month, I had the honor to be asked to travel to London as part of an international review panel for the Wellcome Trust. The Trust is a worldwide charitable organization dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It was great to be able to see the extraordinary research being performed by scientists in the UK.

During the meeting, I was reunited with Professor Maria Marlow of the Department of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham. Maria was one of my first postdoctoral fellows, joining my research group soon after we formed it at M.I.T. in the early 1990s. It is always a great pleasure to see my fellows who are now noted professors in academia all over the world.

FDA Commissioner Health Disparities Lectureship

FDA Commissioner Health Disparities LectureshipAs many of you know, one of my missions is to help reduce or even eliminate the health disparities of underserved populations in the United States. Health disparities represent a major public health emergency in our country and eliminating them is a major challenge.

During my term on the National Science Board of the FDA, I advocated for the establishment of an Office of Minority Health for the FDA. I am proud that Congress moved forward with this initiative and established the Office of Minority Health. On its first anniversary, the FDA invited me back to provide an address on ways in which race, culture and ethnicitiy should be considered in adopting regulatory policies and actions. I gave my talk last month as part of the first “FDA Commissioner Health Disparities Lectureship,” and I was grateful to share the podium with Professor George King from Harvard. I applaud the leadership of the FDA, especially Dr. Michelle Yeboah (Director of the Office) , and the leadership of HHS, especially Dr. Nadine Gracia (Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health) for their work in the elimination of Health Disparities.

10th Annual Alvin H. Crawford Mentoring Award

In late February, I was truly honored and delighted to receive the Alvin Crawford Mentoring Award presented by the J. Robert Gladden Orthopaedic Society (JRGOS). The Mentoring Award recognizes excellence in promoting diversity and mentoring in orthopaedic surgery. Over the years, I have been fortunate to receive recognition for my mentorship including the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mentoring Award presented by President Obama at the White House in 2010 and the 2011 Biomedical Engineering Society’s Diversity Award.

I would like to personally thank my current and former students, postdoctoral fellows, and residents. Their curiosity and enthusiasm keep me vibrant.

Prominent African-Americans “Poised to Make a Big Difference in the United States and the World”

In honor of Black History Month, MSNBC compiled a list of black leaders in the arts, science, technology, politics, and other areas. I was honored to be included in this group of men and women, particularly since the article included words from Dr. Cedric Bright, an outstanding leader and President of the National Medical Association.

I have always taken pride in my desire to promote excellence in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and medicine. My sincerest hope is that, throughout my career, I will continue to inspire all those who wish to follow my philosophy of “big vision, big life.”

Honored with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award

Dr. Martin Luther King gives his "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.
Dr. Martin Luther King gives his “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

I was proud to be one of five who received the 2012 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award, which recognizes achievement and service that reflects the great civil rights leader’s ideals. The awards dinner and breakfast, held on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last week, was uplifting. Each year, candidates for the leadership awards are nominated by their colleagues. Simply to have been nominated was an honor, but to have been nominated by Robert Langer, an internationally renowned engineer and my mentor, was doubly so. I am grateful to Dr. Langer, the MLK Jr. Planning Committee, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for this award.

The 11th U.S.-Japan Symposium on Drug Delivery Systems Conference

I recently had the privilege of being an invited speaker at the 11th U.S.-Japan Symposium on Drug Delivery Systems Conference in Maui. The symposium was co-sponsored by the Japanese Society of Drug Delivery Systems, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Kyoto University and offered a unique opportunity for interaction among attendees from academia and industry between Japan and the United States My talk was entitled “Regenerative engineering: Drug delivery of effector molecules” and highlighted the work at the Institute for Regenerative Engineering including research by Dr. Lakshmi Nair and Dr. Kevin Wai Hong Lo.

I so appreciated the hospitality provided by the organizers. I want to thank Professor Robert Langer, my mentor, for co-organizing such a fine meeting.