By Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D.
On Friday, July 22, the Institute for Regenerative Engineering held our 29th Annual Laurencin Labs dinner at the Hartford Golf Club in West Hartford. Over 60 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty members attended. Also attending were the local high-school and college students who are spending part of their summers in the lab. The evening celebrated the outstanding research conducted in our laboratory during 2016 and included a discussion of the work planned for 2017.
Thank you to those who helped make this the dinner meeting so successful.
By Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D.
On April 16, Dr. Linda Barry, assistant director of CICATS, was invited to Fox 61 Hartford’s “Stan Simpson Show.” During the interview, Dr. Barry discussed CICATS’ novel Young Innovative Investigator Program (YIIP) which increases diversity among the next generation of doctors and scientists. She also mentioned YIIP’s program for biomedical scientists, stressing the need for more students of color to pursue research to cure diseases rooted in the Black community. Thank you to UConn Health Communications and Kate Hayden for working to arrange such a great interview.
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I am very honored to have been featured in “Grow Your Own” in the December 2015 issue of Prism magazine. I had the pleasure of discussing the HEAL Project with Prism’s team. Please check out the article at http://www.asee-prism.org/up-close-dec-3/.
Prism is the American Society for Engineering Education’s award-winning publication. The popular magazine covers engineering in higher education throughout the United States. The magazine is read reaches engineering faculty members, administrators, and students in all disciplines of engineering. Thank you to Mary Lord, the deputy editor of Prism as well as Prism’s editorial team for featuring me.
Last month, Stan Simpson, host of “The Stan Simpson Show” on Fox CT, invited me to be a guest on his show for the second time. During the interview, I explained our current research initiative named “Hartford Engineering A Limb” (HEAL) at the Institute for Regenerative Engineering. The project’s goal is to regenerate a human knee in seven years and a whole limb in fifteen. The field of regenerative engineering is still in its infancy, and through the HEAL project, we are hoping to utilize this new approach to bring life-changing breakthroughs to patients. The interview can be seen on the web, please visit the following link:
I am one of a select group of engineers from around the world to have been elected a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), one of the most prestigious academic institutions in China. A CAE academician title is the highest Chinese academic achievement in Engineering and Technology and a lifelong honor. The induction ceremony will be held in Beijing in June 2016. I am extremely honored to join these distinguished scholars. It will inspire me to make more contributions in science and engineering in the years to come.
On November 7, Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway PT, visited UConn for the first time. He delivered the Lawrence G. Raisz, M.D. Lectureship, an event hosted by the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS) and UConn School of Engineering in the Student Union of the Storrs campus. Over 300 people, including students, faculty, researchers, public officials and community-based organizations attended. In his keynote entitled “Innovation: Past, Present and Future”, Dean urged the young people present to keep following their dreams and shared an overview of projects he and his engineers at DEKA Research have been working on. He also discussed FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a program for students to get them interested in science, technology, and engineering he and his partners started in 1989 and continue supporting today.
In addition to the Segway, Dean invented the iBOT all-terrain wheelchair as well as several biomedical devices. He has also developed a water purification system he hopes will help improve living standards in developing countries He has received the U.S. Medal of Technology and the ASME Medal, the American Society of Mechanical Engineer’s highest honor. Dean holds more than 440 U.S. and foreign patents.
As the CEO of CICATS, I thank everyone at CICATS for their hard work organizing Dean’s visit over the past months. I also thank the School of Engineering at UConn Storrs for co-hosting this event.
In March, 2015, the African Union supported the establishment of the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) under the leadership of the African Academy of Sciences and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development. AESA will help drive Africa’s research agenda and build scientific capacity across the continent. The Wellcome Trust, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the UK Department for International Development are funding the development of AESA and sharing their vision of supporting the next generation of African researchers who will help solve some of the continent’s greatest health and development challenges.
In early September, I was honored to receive an invitation to attend the AESA launch in Nairobi. I delivered a speech during which I read a letter from Dr. Francis Collins, the Director of NIH, in support of AESA. As a African-American, I am very proud Africa will play a key role in building a world-class scientific and programmatic unit.
I am happy to announce that I have been elected a Foreign Fellow of the India National Academy of Sciences. I am one of only two Foreign Fellows elected this year, and the first from the University of Connecticut and UConn Health.
The citation reads “for his pioneering work in the field of material sciences.” I was recognized as a world leader in polymer-ceramic composites, and recognized for his contributions in tissue generation and bioengineering.
Election to the India National Academy of Sciences is a tremendous honor. I feel so fortunate to have had the support of all my colleagues, my students and the organizations I have worked with. My election is a tribute to their support.
The National Academy of Sciences in India was founded in 1930 and it is the oldest Science Academy in India. It is located in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. The main objective of the Academy was to provide a national forum for the publication of research work carried out by Indian scientists and to provide opportunities for exchange of views among them.
I am honored to be named a 2014 MRS Fellow. The formal induction ceremony took place in San Francisco last week. I was part of a 22-member group elected as fellows, and it was a great pleasure to meet these new colleagues. This fellowship honors MRS members who are notable for their distinguished accomplishments and their outstanding contributions to the advancement of materials research worldwide. The citation for my fellowship award cites “seminal contributions to the use of advanced polymer materials in the medical field and in regenerative medicine.” I thank the Materials Research Society for including me in this group and congratulate the other recipients who share this honor with me.
I am pleased to announce that Dr. Roshan James recently joined the Institute for Regenerative Engineering as a postdoctoral fellow. His current research focuses on the design and fabrication of novel biomaterials for musculoskeletal tissue engineering. His research interests include biomaterials, integrated tissues, and regenerative engineering.
Dr. James received his bachelor degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur in India, and completed his doctoral thesis under my mentorship at the University of Virginia (UVa) in 2012. His Ph.D. thesis focused on the design of mechanically competent polyester-based matrices for tendon tissue regeneration. In addition, he worked on developing a growth factor delivery system that provided bioactive physiologically relevant doses to modulate cellular responses in adipose stromal cells along the tendonogenic lineage.
Dr. James received a number of awards from UVa where he presented at university-wide research competitions. In, 2012, he was a finalist in the UVa Presidential Research Competition. In addition, he was recently selected as a New Investigator Recognition Awards (NIRA) finalist at the 2013 Orthopaedic Research Society Conference in San Antonio. His talk was entitled ‘Combined Treatment of a Tendon Gap with a Biomimetic Electrospun Scaffold, Stromal Cells and GDF5,’ and his presentation focused on in vivo characterization of biodegradable biomaterials designed to mimic the structure of the tendon extracellular matrix.
It is worth noting that Dr. James has made a significant impact on tendon tissue engineering. He has successfully developed a novel tubular scaffold system to regenerate a large gap defect in tendon tissue due to severe injuries. The scaffold system can also deliver adipose stromal cells and growth factors that facilitate the regenerative process resulting in new tendon tissue formation.
Everyone in the Institute for Regenerative Engineering welcomes Roshan and looks forward to working with him here at UConn.