Repairing severely damaged bones is a challenge—especially the long bones of the arms and legs. Now, UConn Health scientists describe a new method in the 22 May issue of PNAS that can promote regrowth of long bones more affordably and with fewer side effects than other techniques.
Cleanly broken bones often heal without problems. But bones with smashed or missing sections are much more difficult to regenerate. Grafting across the gaps using bone from elsewhere is one way to fix them, and about 500,000 bone grafts are done in the US every year. But bone grafts alone don’t always work, and they’re quite costly. Recently, orthopedic surgeons have begun treating difficult breaks with specific human proteins that encourage bone growth, both alone and paired with grafts or scaffolds. They are used to encourage bone regrowth in spinal fusion surgeries, for example… Continue reading.
On March 28 Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, the University Professor and Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor at the University of Connecticut, received the 2023 Priestley Medal. This is the highest honor of the American Chemical Society. He was honored “for pioneering, breakthrough work on polymeric materials and polymer composites for biologic use, and for leadership in inclusion, diversity, equity, anti-racism and learning (IDEAL).”
In chemistry and materials science, Laurencin is a pioneer in polymeric materials chemistry, and polymeric materials science engineering for musculoskeletal systems. He produced seminal research work and discoveries in patents and papers on polymeric nanofiber technology, ushering in the field of polymeric nanomaterials for tissue regeneration… Continue reading.
If the 20th century was the age of mapping and controlling the external world, the 21st century is the biomedical age of mapping and controlling the biological internal world. The biomedical age is bringing new technological breakthroughs for sensing and controlling human biomolecules, cells, tissues, and organs, which underpin new frontiers in the biomedical discovery, data, biomanufacturing, and translational sciences. This article reviews what we believe will be the next wave of biomedical engineering (BME) education in support of the biomedical age, what we have termed BME 2.0. BME 2.0 was announced on October 12 2017 at BMES 49 (https://www.bme.jhu.edu/news-events/news/miller-opens-2017-bmes-annual-meeting-with-vision-for-new-bme-era/). We present several principles upon which we believe the BME 2.0 curriculum should be constructed, and from these principles, we describe what view as the foundations that form the next generations of curricula in support of the BME enterprise. The core principles of BME 2.0 education are (a) educate students bilingually, from day 1, in the languages of modern molecular biology and the analytical modeling of complex biological systems; (b) prepare every student to be a biomedical data scientist; (c) build a unique BME community for discovery and innovation via a vertically integrated and convergent learning environment spanning the university and hospital systems; (d) champion an educational culture of inclusive excellence; and (e) codify in the curriculum ongoing discoveries at the frontiers of the discipline, thus ensuring BME 2.0 as a launchpad for training the future leaders of the biotechnology marketplaces. We envision that the BME 2.0 education is the path for providing every student with the training to lead in this new era of engineering the future of medicine in the 21st century… Continue reading.
A new way to regenerate muscle could help repair the damaged shoulders of millions of people every year. The technique uses advanced materials to encourage muscle growth in rotator cuff muscles. Dr. Cato Laurencin and his team reported the findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) August 8th issue.
Tears of the major tendons in the shoulder joint, commonly called the rotator cuff, are common injuries in adults. Advances in surgery have made ever better rotator cuff repairs possible. But failure rates with surgery can be high. Now, a team of researchers from the UConn School of Medicine led by Laurencin, a surgeon, engineer and scientist, reports that a graphene/polymer matrix embedded into shoulder muscle can prevent re-tear injuries… Continue reading.
The prestigious European Academy of Sciences has recognized UConn’s Dr. Cato T. Laurencin for his visionary and pioneering work in the field of regenerative engineering
In recognition of his pioneering work in the field of regenerative engineering, UConn professor Dr. Cato T. Laurencin has been elected to the prestigious European Academy of Sciences (EURASC).
“It’s very gratifying that a number of different parts of the world consider the work we are doing to be breakthrough,” Laurencin says. “The world is embracing the concepts behind regenerative engineering and has come to realize the importance of this field… Continue reading.
Professor Cato T. Laurencin of the University of Connecticut is the 2021 recipient of the prestigious Spingarn Medal, the highest honor of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
“This is the most iconic award of the NAACP,” says Laurencin, who serves as the University Professor and Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at UConn… Continue reading.
On April 26, 2021 the National Academy of Sciences announced that Dr. Cato T. Laurencin was elected as a new member, making him the first surgeon to be elected to membership in the three National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.
Laurencin is known as a world leader in biomaterials, polymeric materials science, nanotechnology, stem cell science, drug delivery systems, and a field he has pioneered, regenerative engineering. Laurencin’s papers and patents have had broad impact on human health, including pioneering the use of nanotechnology in musculoskeletal regeneration and ushering in a new era in orthopaedic therapies. For this work, Dr. Laurencin received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest honor bestowed in America for technological achievement, from President Barack Obama… Continue reading.
Within six weeks of announcing a successful method to fabricate custom-fit mask frames to optimize protection from the spread of COVID-19, UConn has a licensing deal with a Connecticut manufacturer to produce them.
Connecticut Biotech, a startup company headquartered in South Windsor, aims to start marketing, manufacturing, and distributing 3D-printed mask frames under the brand Secure Fit this month.
“This is an important technology that can help a lot of people by providing a specific way to make regular surgical masks more protective,” says Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, CEO of the Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering. “It’s wonderful to see technology that started here in the state of Connecticut being developed by a Connecticut company… Continue reading.
Did you know a single handshake can transfer 124 million bacteria?
That’s why in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic in the journal Science’s Editor’s Blog entitled “The end of the handshake?,” UConn Health doctors are recommending a new alternative to the handshake to reduce human contact, protect public health, and diminish the spread of the coronavirus.
With hand-to-hand contact now strongly discouraged, and even the popular elbow bump now considered a breeding ground for germs due to the common practice of sneezing and coughing into the elbow region, Dr. Cato T. Laurencin and Dr. Aneesah McClinton of UConn Health’s Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering have created “The Laurencin-McClinton Greeting” (LMG) to meet the evolving COVID-19 culture needs… Continue reading.
UConn is developing the latest innovative approach to tackling the personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage that has developed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and it has already been used to protect front-line providers at UConn Health.
The Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering has developed a method to fabricate custom-fit mask frames and exoskeletons to give conventional masks the optimal protective qualities of N95 respirators.
“We use a combination of facial recognition software and 3D printing to create the exact dimensions and make the perfect size,” says Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, the institute’s CEO. “It’s very difficult to make one-size fits all, and one size shouldn’t fit all… Continue reading.
An important research focus for Dr. Laurencin and his team is to explore the emerging issues around Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. Dr. Laurencin is the Editor-In-Chief for the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities which reports on the scholarly progress of work to understand, address, and ultimately eliminate health disparities based on race and ethnicity. Below are articles that The Connecticut Convergence Institute team has published around the topic… Continue reading.
The team led by Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, former dean of the UConn School of Medicine, analyzed and reviewed the Department of Public Health’s data on COVID-19 outcomes and found that Blacks have a higher rate of infection and death in comparison to the percentage of the population they represent in the state.
However, the information collected on race and ethnicity is incomplete.
“The scarcity of this information generates a more substantial concern in which insufficiently identifying the affected may ultimately result in historically marginalized groups shouldering the greatest burden of disease and disproportionately bearing the social impact,” Laurencin and his team wrote in their paper… Continue reading.
Racial profiling is a public health and health disparities issue through its disparate and adverse health impact on those targeted by this practice, as well as members of their communities. We discuss six ways police profiling and racial discrimination adversely impact Black American health. We identify four direct and two indirect ways. Four direct ways are (1) violent confrontation with police that causes injury or death; (2) police language that escalates a confrontation through micro-aggressions or macro-aggressions; (3) sub-lethal confrontations with police; (4) adverse health consequences of perceived or vicarious threat, i.e., the mere belief in potential harm by police injures health. There are two indirect ways: (5) through knowledge of or personal relationship with someone who directly experienced racial profiling; (6) through public events without a personal knowledge of the unarmed person threatened or killed by police as a result of racial profiling, but where such events cause both individuals and the community at large to perceive a threat. We support recognition of racial profiling as a public health and health disparities issue. We recommend support for community programs that address the clinical health effects of racial profiling. We also recommend widespread engagement of trauma-informed policing (TIP) that acknowledges the clinical effects of racial profiling… Continue reading.
Doctors at UConn Health have developed the first classification system for regenerative cell-based therapies designed to stratify therapies based on scientific evidence and potential for harm. Today, there are concerns regarding the clinical safety and efficacy of cell-based therapies throughout the scientific community and within public discourse. The unregulated U.S. stem cell market has been widely reported as it offers potentially harmful therapies to patients without FDA approval. Currently, there are no regenerative cell-based therapies approved by the FDA, although high demand for such treatments is ongoing.
In light of these concerns, the current climate has generated demand for a systematic method to assess potential therapies. Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, CEO of The Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering at UConn Health, has created a new classification system for cell-based therapies. The objective was to create a strategy that will benefit patients, encourage regulatory efforts, and further inform the scientific community.
“The rapidly expanding direct-to-consumer marketplace allows for public consumption of unregulated treatments, so we identified an opportunity to enhance regulation and ensure greater public health,” says Laurencin.
The new system will aid in categorizing proposed interventions to determine suitability for immediate clinical use or therapies that require further investigational studies prior to clinical use. Utilization of this system will result in increased regulation and widespread standardization, which in turn decreases patient health and financial risks associated with unregulated treatments. To learn more about the new classification system, view the newly published article here.
This is the fifth edition of the Prize, which rewards outstanding scientific research projects in the life sciences that have led to an improvement in the quality of human life.
The prize recognizes the fundamental contribution of Prof. Cato T. Laurencin to regenerative engineering applied to the development of biomaterials for clinical use; stem cell science, nanotechnology and drug delivery systems. More than one million patients worldwide have benefited from his innovative work.
Prof. Laurencin, a teacher, biomedical engineer and orthopaedic surgeon, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering and the Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery. His outstanding contributions to the advancement of science have been recognized worldwide… Continue reading.
The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) honored three members today at its annual meeting for their outstanding service. The honorees are Cato Laurencin, University Professor and Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Connecticut; David Savitz, professor of epidemiology, obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatrics at Brown University; and Gail Wilensky, economist and senior fellow at Project HOPE.
“These distinguished members represent the true spirit of dedication through their decades of service to NAM,” said National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. Dzau. “The diverse perspectives they bring to their activities have helped shape sound policies, inform public opinion, and advance knowledge about some of today’s most complex issues in health and medicine. We are delighted to honor them for their leadership and their mentorship to so many… Continue reading.
University of Connecticut’s Dr. Cato T. Laurencin was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on Oct. 12. Laurencin is among more than 200 newly elected members chosen for their outstanding achievements in academia, the arts, business, government, and public affairs.
Laurencin is currently the only active orthopaedic surgeon in the United States who is a member of the Academy, and the fifth orthopaedic surgeon ever inducted in the Academy’s 239th history… Continue reading.
On Sunday, Oct. 6, during its 2019 annual meeting, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) will present two awards for extraordinary impact on the engineering profession. The Simon Ramo Founders Award will be presented to Cato Thomas Laurencin for his research contributions and leadership in engineering. The Arthur M. Bueche Award will be given to Roderic Ivan Pettigrew for his contributions to technology research, policy, and national and international cooperation.
Cato T. Laurencin is known worldwide as a leader in biomaterials, nanotechnology, stem cell science, drug delivery systems, and a field he has pioneered, regenerative engineering. Laurencin is being recognized with the Simon Ramo Founders Award “for fundamental, critical, and groundbreaking scientific advances in the engineering of tissues, guiding technology and science policy, and promoting diversity and excellence in science.” The award acknowledges outstanding professional, educational, and personal achievements to the benefit of society and includes a commemorative medal… Continue reading.
Two UConn professors, Dr. Cato Laurencin and physics professor Nora Berrah, have been elected as members to the historic and prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences. This year, more than 200 individuals were elected to the academy with compelling achievements in academia, business, government, and public affairs.
“One of the reasons to honor extraordinary achievement is because the pursuit of excellence is so often accompanied by disappointment and self-doubt,” said David Oxtoby, president of the academy. “We are pleased to recognize the excellence of our new members, celebrate their compelling accomplishments, and invite them to join the Academy and contribute to its work.”
Founded in 1780 by John Adams and James Bowdoin, the academy honors exceptionally accomplished individuals who are engaged in advancing the public good.
Laurencin is a world-renowned surgeon-scientist in orthopaedic surgery, engineering, and materials science. He is known as a pioneer in the field of regenerative engineering. His work over a span of more than 25 years has had an extraordinary range of depth and breadth. He has made fundamental and seminal contributions in polymeric materials science and engineering, and nanotechnology. At the same time, his research successes have included the growth and regeneration of bone, ligaments, and other musculoskeletal tissues… Continue reading.
Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, founding director of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering and the Sackler Center for Biomedical, Biological, Physical and Engineering Sciences at the University of Connecticut, is the winner of the 2019 Philip Hauge Abelson Prize, presented by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
An eminent biomedical engineer and orthopedic surgeon, Laurencin is being honored for his unique contributions to the advancement of science. The Abelson Prize recognizes his global leadership in biomedical technology innovation, public service in shaping United States technology policy and invaluable mentorship to a generation of minority scientists.
“Prof. Cato T. Laurencin is the foremost scientist-biomedical engineer in our country today and a national and international leader in science and technology innovation,” Kazem Kazerounian, dean of the University of Connecticut School of Engineering, wrote in the award nomination. “Dr. Laurencin is a towering figure in science and technology… Continue reading.
UConn Health’s Dr. Cato T. Laurencin has been elected a Foreign Fellow by The Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE) for his outstanding accomplishments bridging engineering and medicine.
This is the second time India has honored Laurencin. In 2015, the Indian National Academy of Sciences, founded in 1930, elected him a Foreign Fellow. The Academy noted in its citation that he is a pioneer in materials science and a world leader in polymer-ceramics composites research.
With his election to the Indian National Academy of Engineering, Laurencin becomes the first American-born scientist to be elected to both of these academies of India.
“I am honored to be recognized by my colleagues and peers in India with election to the Indian National Academy of Engineering,” said Laurencin. “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.”
Laurencin is a pioneering surgeon-scientist in orthopaedic surgery, engineering, materials science and regenerative engineering. This year at the White House he received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest honor in the U.S. for technological achievement.
At UConn he is a designated University Professor, the eighth in the school’s history. He is professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, professor of materials science and engineering, and professor of biomedical engineering. He serves as chief executive officer of the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS), UConn’s cross-university science institute.
UConn’s Dr. Cato Laurencin was honored on May 19 at the White House by President Barack Obama with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement.
The citation of Laurencin’s award read aloud during the medal ceremony was: For seminal work in the engineering of musculoskeletal tissues, especially for revolutionary achievements in the design of bone matrices and ligament regeneration; and for extraordinary work in promoting diversity and excellence in science.
“I am honored to receive the highest award in our nation for innovative technological achievement and scientific excellence from our great country,” said Laurencin. “Receiving the Medal of Technology and Innovation is a tribute to the hard work that has taken place by our great team over the past 25 years. It inspires me to keep working hard to advance science breakthroughs in regenerative engineering for future therapies for my patients.”
Pres. Obama commented at the ceremony: “The amount of brainpower in this room right now is astonishing.” The president shared that because the medal winners, such as Laurencin, lived in an America that fosters curiosity, invests in education and values science, “They were able to find their calling and do extraordinary things.”
“As president, I am proud to honor each of you for your contributions to our nation,” said Obama.
This is the third time Laurencin has received White House honors. Previously, he was awarded the Presidential Faculty Fellow Award from President Bill Clinton for his work bridging engineering and medicine, and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Math, and Engineering Mentoring from Pres. Obama.
Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, a world-renowned physician-scientist in orthopaedic surgery, engineering, and materials science, has been named the 2016 recipient of the Connecticut Medal of Technology. Laurencin, of the University of Connecticut will accept the award at the 41st Annual Meeting & Dinner of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE) on May 24.
Laurencin, a CASE member since 2009, is a pioneer who has developed technologies that are revolutionary and that are in use in important applications in the marketplace. He has exhibited leadership and courage in the development of new initiatives for science and entrepreneurship.
Laurencin is a University Professor at UConn. He is the 8th University Professor in the school’s history. This rare title is awarded to individuals for extraordinary academic excellence, and sustained, high-level achievements in administration at the school and is UConn’s highest faculty distinction. He currently is chief executive officer of the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science, where he leads the university’s translational science research infrastructure. He is the founding director of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering and the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical, Biological, Physical, and Engineering Sciences at UConn Health. In addition, he is a professor across the university, as well as a board certified orthopaedic surgeon, endowed professor of orthopaedic surgery, and fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Biomedical Engineering Society, the Materials Research Society, and the American Chemical Society.
The White House has announced today that UConn’s Dr. Cato T. Laurencin will be a recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from the president of the United States.
The award is the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement that is bestowed by the president on America’s leading innovators.
“I am excited to be honored by President Barack Obama with this highest award in our land for scientific innovation,” said Laurencin. “I need to thank my family, teachers, mentors, colleagues, and students for inspiring me each and every day. What has been accomplished on this journey is in large part due to them.”
Laurencin will receive the medal at the White House next year. This will mark the third time he has received White House honors. He is also the recipient of the Presidential Faculty Fellow Award from President Bill Clinton for his work bridging engineering and medicine, and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Math, and Engineering Mentoring from President Barack Obama.
The CAE, one of the most prestigious academic institutions in China, announced on Monday in Beijing its newest group of 70 Chinese members and eight foreign members, often known as academicians.
The foreign members include five Americans, one Briton, one Canadian and one Austrian, bringing CAE’s foreign members to 49.
Dr. Laurencin is one of only 3 practicing orthopaedic surgeons in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Laurencin was the first Orthopaedic Surgeon to achieve University Professor level rank in the country. He is the first surgeon in the US to be elected to the Third World Academy of Sciences (of the six US members elected in the last two years, one third are Nobel prize winners). Dr. Laurencin is a member of both the Institutes of Medicine and the National Academies of Engineering.
UConn’s Dr. Cato T. Laurencin is the recipient of the 2016 Founders Award, the highest honor of The Society For Biomaterials.
As a leading surgeon-scientist in orthopaedic surgery, engineering, and materials science and a pioneer of the field of regenerative engineering, Laurencin received this prestigious honor for his landmark and long-term contributions to the field of biomaterials science. He will be honored at the 2016 World Biomaterials Congress in Montreal, Canada on May 18, 2016.
“Dr. Laurencin has been a pioneer in biomaterials research, education, and entrepreneurship, having been one of the original investigators for the incorporation of nanotechnology into the biomaterials field,” says Thomas Webster, president of The Society For Biomaterials. “As a researcher and clinician, he serves as a model to us all concerning how to conduct ground-breaking fundamental and applied biomaterials research to make concrete advances in human health.”
“I am honored to receive this exceptional recognition from The Society For Biomaterials,” says Laurencin, a professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering at UConn and director of The Institute for Regenerative Engineering at UConn Health. “I thank the Society and look forward to advancing the discipline with new initiatives including the HEAL Project – a newly launched grand research challenge with the goals of engineering a human knee in seven years, and an entire limb within 15 years.”
A group of doctors, scientists, and engineers announced an ambitious new medical goal this week in Hartford: they’ll attempt to re-generate a human knee and a human limb.
Cato Laurencin is engineer and a surgeon at UConn Health and he said bioengineering needs more grand challenges.
“Think about going to the moon — that project of going to the moon, when it was first stated in the early 1960s — where we had no way of being able to do it,” Laurencin said. “But [we] ended up doing it in the end. The technologies that came out of that were incredible.”
Like going to the moon, or sequencing the human genome, Laurencin doesn’t expect his new project to happen overnight.
He calls it “HEAL” (for “Hartford Engineering A Limb”). Timelines are loose, but he anticipates needing about seven years to regenerate a knee, and about 15 years for an entire limb.
David Gardiner, a scientist at UC Irvine, said more “moonshots” are needed in the field of biology and engineering.
“The basic science culture is very, very conservative. As a result, when it comes time to go get funds to support your research, you have to almost know what the answer is going to be,” Gardiner said.
Cato T. Laurencin has been elected a Foreign Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences in India. He is one of only two 2015 Foreign Fellows elected, and the first from the University of Connecticut and UConn Health.
Laurencin was honored by India’s National Academy of Sciences “for his pioneering work in the field of material sciences.” He was recognized as a world leader in polymer-ceramic composites, and recognized for his contributions in tissue generation and bioengineering.
Laurencin is a University Professor at UConn, the eighth to be named in the school’s history. He is director of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering at UConn Health and director of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical, Biological, Physical, and Engineering Sciences.
The National Academy of Sciences in India was founded in 1930. It is that nation’s forum for research work, publications, and opportunities for the exchange of ideas.
Named in honor of a distinguished member of the Society For Biomaterials, the Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D. Travel Fellowship will support under-represented minorities in the field of biomaterials by providing an undergraduate student resources to attend the annual meeting of the Society For Biomaterials, and to become a member of the Society. The goal of this initiative is to stimulate/encourage recipients to pursue a career in biomaterials.
Studies conducted by the National Science Foundation and others have concluded that African-Americans, Latinos, Native-Americans and Native Alaskans are disproportionally under-represented in the fields of Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Their underrepresentation represents a barrier to excellence in these fields.
Dr. Cato Laurencin, for whom the fellowship has been named, is well known for his commitment to mentoring. He is the recipient of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Mentor Award, the Beckman Award for Mentoring, the Alvin F. Crawford Award for Mentoring, and received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Engineering and Math Mentoring from President Barack Obama in ceremonies at the White House.
After famed boxer Mike Tyson defeated Buster Mathis in the third round of a 1995 bout, the former heavyweight champion of the world waited for the referee to call the match, then hugged his contender.
Just a few feet away, Tyson’s ringside doctor witnessed this simple gesture between the two men, who moments before had vied for the heavyweight title by delivering each other blows.
That doctor was Cato Laurencin, now University Professor, Albert and Wilda Dusen Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, and director of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering at UConn.
Laurencin has worked as a ringside doctor for the past two decades. In August, he traveled to Venezuela as the physician for the USA Boxing Elite Men’s National Team for the American Boxing Confederation Championships.
“I’ve always loved the sport and the personalities,” he says. “Boxing teaches sportsmanship – the lessons for life are incredible.”
Dr. Cato Laurencin, second from right, in Venezuela with the USA Boxing Elite Men’s National Team in August 2015.
For Laurencin, who uses his hands for healing, his interest in a sport that uses hands for fighting has many motivations, one of them being the camaraderie that exists in much of professional boxing and in amateur boxing.
“In the amateur ranks,” he says, “the first thing boxers often do at the end of a fight is hug each other, then go to each corner and give thanks to their coaches, then the referee.”
UConn’s Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, a renowned surgeon-scientist, has won a National Institutes of Health Pioneer Award for his exceptionally creative research in regenerative engineering.
The $4 million grant is part of the NIH’s program for high-risk research with potentially high rewards. It will support his cutting-edge work in regenerative engineering, a new field he has described in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The NIH Director’s Pioneer Award recognizes an exclusive class of individual scientists whose work is deemed exceptionally creative, highly innovative, and to have the potential to produce “unusually high impact” in addressing or solving “exceptionally important problems” in biomedical or behavioral sciences. In the 11-year history of the Pioneer Award, relatively few recipients are also practicing physicians who take research findings from the lab to the bedside.
Dr. Cato T. Laurencin at his office at UConn Health in Farmington. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)
Laurencin is internationally known for developing revolutionary new ways to treat musculoskeletal injury. Last year, a bioengineered matrix he invented to regenerate ligament tissue inside the knee began clinical trials in Europe. Today he is working to bring new technologies involving regenerative engineering to regenerate entire joints, and perhaps someday entire limbs.
“If successful, this project will help usher in this new era of what we call regenerative engineering, providing revolutionary clinical solutions to millions,” Laurencin says. “Developing a new therapeutic strategy for the regeneration of complex musculoskeletal tissues and joints will revolutionize the way musculoskeletal tissue injury and wear is treated, tremendously improving the quality of lives of patients.”
A bioengineered matrix for treatment of torn anterior cruciate ligaments invented by a UConn Health Center physician-scientist is now patented in the United States.
Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, Van Dusen Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, founding director of the UConn Health Center’s Institute for Regenerative Engineering, and University Professor at UConn is the inventor of the L-C Ligament, the first bioengineered matrix shown to completely regenerate ligament tissue inside the knee.
Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, inventor of the L-C Ligament.
“Our large animal studies were completed over the last two years. The technology may be a new solution for perhaps hundreds of thousands of individuals with ACL tears,” Laurencin says. “It also shows the promise that regenerative engineering can offer.”
A Phase 1 clinical trial is underway in Europe where the first patient was implanted with the L-C Ligament on June 18 by a surgical team in the Netherlands led by Dr. Kees van Egmond, a Dutch orthopaedic surgeon. In attendance at the surgery were Dr. Robert Arciero, the UConn Health Center’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery chief of sports medicine and president-elect of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), and Dr. Robert Stanton, an AOSSM past president.
“A biologic device that can regenerate a torn ACL would have tremendous impact for the 200,000 ACL tears that occur annually in the U.S.,” says Arciero. “If the human trials prove efficacious this would totally change the way surgeons manage this injury.”
Laurencin says after a successful European trial, a larger clinical trial in the United States would take place within the next two years.
At this year’s AAAS annual meeting, Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, M.D., Ph.D., was the recipient of the 2012 AAAS Mentor Award “for his transformative impact and scientific contributions toward mentoring students in the field of biomedical engineering.” Dr. Laurencin has also been awarded with a number of other honors including the Presidential Faculty Fellow Award from former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring from President Barack Obama. Among many other appointments, Dr. Laurencin is currently a Professor at the department of Orthopaedic Surgery at UConn Health Center.
Though widely recognized as a renowned scientist, it is his stature as a distinguished mentor that has prompted me to get in touch with him and ask a few questions regarding the topic. Here is what we discussed:
AAAS MemberCentral: What has inspired you to focus much of your attention on mentorship? Why do you think mentorship is so important?
Cato Laurencin, Professor at the University of Connecticut Health Center: I’ve been fortunate to have had a large number of great mentors in my life, starting with my parents, who have had profound influences on me. They’ve really shaped my life. Mentorship is critical to success in life, it was in mine.
The 2012 AAAS Mentor Award will be presented to Cato T. Laurencin “for his transformative impact and scientific contributions toward mentoring students in the field of biomedical engineering.” He will receive the award during a 15 February ceremony at the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts.
A research breakthrough made by Cato T. Laurencin, director of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering at the UConn Health Center, may someday revolutionize recoveries for patients with tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) – one of the most common knee injuries. That’s according to a special issue of National Geographic that includes Laurencin’s work among the“100 scientific discoveries that changed the world.”
Laurencin’s research includes work on a new approach to ACL regeneration that incorporates the use of a biocompatible and degradable synthetic braided scaffold that would be surgically implanted to create ligament tissue. The scaffold would stabilize the knee and facilitate unprecedented regeneration of ligament tissue.
Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, vice president for health affairs at the University of Connecticut Health Center and dean of the medical school, has been elected a fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society.
The BMES bestows this honor in recognition of outstanding contributions and achievements in biomedical engineering.
In a White House ceremony, President Barack Obama honored 22 recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, including Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, vice president for health affairs and medical school dean.
“We are here today to honor teachers and mentors… who are upholding their responsibility not just to the young people who they teach but to our country by inspiring and educating a new generation in math and science,” Obama said. “But we’re also here because this responsibility can’t be theirs alone. All of us have a role to play in building an education system that is worthy of our children and ready to help us seize the opportunities and meet the challenges of the 21st century.”
Obama told the award recipients, “Whether it’s showing students how to record the habits of a resident reptile, or teaching kids to test soil samples on a class trip to Costa Rica; whether it’s helping young people from tough neighborhoods in Chicago to become “Junior Paleontologists,” or creating a mentoring program that connects engineering students with girls and minorities, who are traditionally underserved in the field — all of you are demonstrating why teaching and mentoring is so important, and why we have to support you, equip you, and send in some reinforcements for you.”
The Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, awarded each year to individuals or organizations, recognizes the crucial role that mentoring plays in the academic and personal development of students studying science or engineering.
“I am humbled and honored by this award,” Laurencin said. “Mentoring aspiring physicians, scientists, and engineers has been, and continues to be, one of the most gratifying aspects of my career. On behalf of the students I have had the privilege of knowing, I am delighted to receive this award.”