Research

Regenerative Engineering Solutions to Rotator Cuff Tears

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

Regenerative Engineering Solutions to Rotator Cuff TearsRotator cuff tears represent a large proportion of musculoskeletal injuries attended by clinics, thereby making rotator cuff repair surgeries one of the most widely performed musculoskeletal procedures. Despite the high incidence rate of rotator cuff tears, operative treatments have provided minimal functional gains and suffer from high re-tear rates.

I am happy to report that recent data from the Institute for Regenerative Engineering suggest that the regenerative engineering technique can be useful for improved healing of torn rotator cuff tendons. Specifically, our team used a nano-based biomaterial matrix conducive to growing stem cells, and combined it with adult stem cells. The results are promising, but our group must continue working for some time before the process can be applied to humans. Our results were published in the prestigious journal PLoS One earlier this month. The paper represents a novel treatment paradigm for the treatment of massive rotator cuff tendon tears. In addition, our work has been highlighted by the NIH Research Matters. Thanks to the NIH, the NSF and the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Foundation for their support of our work.

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.

Distinguished Professor at Widener University

Distinguished Professor at Widener University

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

On April 4, I was really honored to be the keynote speaker for the 2017 Distinguished Professor Lecture Series at the Widener University School of Engineering. During my talk, I shared my insights on “regenerative engineering” – the convergence of advanced materials science, stem cell science, physics, developmental biology, and clinical transition. Particularly, I focused on our current work on musculoskeletal tissue regeneration using polymeric nanofiber systems and stem cells. Thank you to Dr. Fred Akl, dean of the School of Engineering, and Dr. Rudy Treichel, associate dean, for hosting such a visit and lecture for me.

Research!America’s Mary Woolley Visits UConn Health

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

Research!America’s Mary Woolley Visits UConn Health

On December 16th, Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America, the nation’s largest nonprofit public education and advocacy alliance, gave a presentation in Low Learning Center as part of the CICATS Luncheon Seminar Series. It was hosted by CICATS and the Kavli Foundation.

As the CEO of CICATS, I had the pleasure of introducing Ms. Woolley, and she spoke about the importance of advocacy and how scientists should do more to build relationships with their elected officials and policymakers. She referenced the recent passage of the “21st Century Cures” bill as proof that forging relationships can produce positive results. Watch her talk in its entirety.

After the seminar, we toured the Institute for Regenerative Engineering and celebrated the great work and philanthropy of our common friends, Raymond and Beverly Sackler for whom our endowed center is named.

Inaugural Regenerative Engineering Society Meeting

Rock Stars of Regenerative Engineering

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

The National Academy of Engineering hosted the inaugural meeting of the Regenerative Engineering Society on December 10 and 11 in Irvine, CA. Sponsored by both the National Science Foundation and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the meeting took place at the Beckman Center. The theme of the meeting was “Rock Stars of Regenerative Engineering” and featured four leaders in the field who discussed their work. The “Rock Stars” included: Rui Reis of University of Minho (Portugal); David Gardiner of University of California, Irvine; Ali Khademhousseini of M.I.T.; and Roderic Pettigrew of NIH/NIBIB.

This was indeed an historic event for the Regenerative Engineering Society, an organization that works to push the boundaries of how we think about regeneration through the creation of a community that knows no bounds. On behalf of the organizing committee of the Regenerative Engineering Society, I want to thank and congratulate everyone who participated. I look forward to our next Rock Stars meeting, and to further building our membership.

Rock Stars of Regenerative Engineering    Rock Stars of Regenerative Engineering

Indian National Academy of Engineering

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

I am happy to announce I was elected a Foreign Fellow by the Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE) for the outstanding accomplishments bridging engineering and medicine. This was the second time I was honored by India. In 2015, the Indian National Academy of Sciences also elected me as a Foreign Fellow. I am so fortunate to be the first American-born scientist elected to both academies. I am honored to be recognized by my colleagues and peers in. I am also honored to represent the University of Connecticut, demonstrating to the world the great level of science that is present at our school. I look forward to further collaborations with the talented engineers and scientists of India to advance knowledge in the service of mankind.

Rock Stars of Regenerative Engineering

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

I am pleased to announce that the Regenerative Engineering Society will present the first “Rock Stars of Regenerative Engineering Conference.”

The conference is being hosted by the National Academy of Engineering at the Beckman Center in Irvine, California on December 10 and December 11, 2016.

The Regenerative Engineering Society is a new society focusing on the convergence of areas including advanced materials, stem cell science, physics, developmental biology and clinical translation for solving next generation challenges in tissue regeneration. The society recently has joined with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and is now one of its communities.

The Rock Stars of Regenerative Engineering will feature seven current exciting leaders of the field who will discuss their work in an interactive fashion. Poster sessions will allow younger investigators to interact, while there are plans to bring high school students to the meal events to allow networking with them.

We are excited about this new and innovative approach to the phrase “scientific meeting.” The conference is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

The call for poster abstracts is now open. Abstracts can be submitted through https://aiche.confex.com/aiche/rsre16/cfp.cgi.

AIMBE Distinguished Leadership Panel

AIMBE leadership panelOn April 3rd and 4th, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) hosted its annual 2-day meeting in Washington, DC. This event represents one of the premiere conferences where the leaders in medical and biological engineering from academia, industry, and government gather for cutting-edge programming, social events, and a chance to welcome the newest AIMBE fellows. This year, AIMBE highlighted the Distinguished Leadership Panel featuring the country’s leading experts in the field to discuss AIMBE’s next 25 years. I was honored to be on the panel with a number of distinguished leaders in the field, including Dr. Robert Nerem, Dr. Nicholas Peppas, and Dr. Kenneth Lutchen. I spoke about the organization’s need to be leaders in diversity, advocacy, and the promotion of next-generation science. The event was incredibly rewarding.

Professor Edward Botchwey Inaugurates the HEAL Project Seminar Series

On February 18, we were honored to have Edward Botchwey, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech, as the first speaker in the HEAL Seminar Series. Dr. Botchwey delivered a talk entitled “Engineering Immunologically Smart Biomaterials for Regenerative Medicine.”

Ed was one of my graduate students at Drexel who later moved with me to the University of Virginia. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2002. After completing a United Negro College Fund/Merck sponsored postdoctoral fellowship at the Wistar Institute, he became an associate professor in the both biomedical engineering and orthopaedic surgery at the University of Virginia. In 2009, Ed was selected by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to receive the 2009 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). It is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

The Botchwey Laboratory at Georgia Tech takes a multidisciplinary approach for the improvement of tissue engineering therapies through study of microvascular remodeling, inflammation resolution, and host stem cells.

We look forward to bringing other innovative research leaders to speak as part of this seminar series here at UConn Health.

CICATS Celebrates Excellence in Research

CICATS Celebrates Excellence in Research

CICATS Celebrates Excellence in Research Last month, the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS) held its first annual “Celebration of Excellence in Research” for its 17 Core Interest Groups (CIGs).

CIGs were developed to promote collaborative, transdisciplinary research. The CIG concept clearly accommodates the goal of disease-agnostic research, allowing the spontaneous formation of new research enterprises. Investigators from all partnering institutions are encouraged to be a part of CIGs. Current CIG research activities focus on a range of basic, clinical, and translational initiatives on: aging, biomedical engineering, multidisciplinary obesity research, cancer prevention, mental health, cardiovascular diseases, drug discovery, correctional health research, e-health and m-health technologies, injury prevention, stroke and cerebrovascular diseases, occupational safety and health, personalized immunotherapy, musculoskeletal research, sickle cell disease, women’s cancer, and health disparities.

The event celebrated and showcased the work and success of each CIGs, providing an opportunity for faculty and community-based organizations to network for collaborative research projects. It also included brief overviews of research project by CIG researchers and poster displays.

This was a very happy occasion to celebrate our researchers and the remarkable growth they have achieved thus far and will continue to achieve. These programs would not have been possible and successful without the support of our faculty, partners, affiliates, administrators and most importantly, the Connecticut Legislative Black and Puerto Rican Caucus.