On the heels of UConn announcing The HEAL Project, an international grand research challenge aimed at regenerating an entire human limb, Dr. Cato T. Laurencin has learned in recent months that he’d be honored this year by several prestigious organizations and even the president of the United States.
UConn revealed on Veterans Day its plan to regenerate a human knee within seven years and an entire limb in 15. HEAL – Hartford Engineering A Limb – was the brainchild of Laurencin, whose laboratory research successes include the growth of bone and knee ligaments. Laurencin is a leading surgeon-scientist in orthopaedic surgery, engineering, and materials science, and a pioneer in the field of regenerative engineering.
The project is supported by Laurencin’s recent $4 million Pioneer Award from the National Institutes of Health, as well as his grant award from the National Science Foundation for Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation. Important support also comes from The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical, Biological, Physical and Engineering Sciences at UConn Health, which Laurencin founded and directs.
“The launch of the HEAL Project is a transformative moment for science and medicine,” said Laurencin in November. “This is the first international effort ever for knee and limb engineering.”
In early December, it was announced that Laurencin would receive the 2016 Founders Award, the highest honor from The Society of Biomaterials. He will be honored for his landmark and long-term contributions to the field of biomaterials science at the 2016 World Biomaterials Congress in Montreal, Canada on May 18. At that same meeting, the Society for Biomaterials will introduce the Cato T. Laurencin, MD, Ph.D. Travel Fellowship, an endowed fellowship named in Laurencin’s honor.
A few weeks later, the White House said Laurencin would receive a National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement that is bestowed by the president on America’s leading innovators. This was the third time Laurencin received White House honors.
“I am honored to be receiving 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.”
And in the same month, Laurencin was named a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. An election for life, Laurencin carries the title of Academician in China.
Laurencin is the eighth professor in UConn history to earn the highest faculty title, University Professor. He is also the Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at UConn Health, and the founder of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering. Laurencin is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Engineering.