Month: August 2016

Introducing CICATS’ 2016 Young Innovative Investigator Program (YIIP) Scholars

The Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS) at the University of Connecticut (UConn) is proud to announce its 2016 Young Innovative Investigator Program (YIIP) Scholars: Aundrya Montgomery, Shania Aponte-Paris, Aaliyah Riccardi, and Archibald Agyekum-Yamoah.  As part of YIIP, these Scholars will have the opportunity to pursue a Graduate Certificate of Research Experience in Biomedical Science from UConn upon successful completion of coursework during their first year.  In year two, Scholars who meet the academic qualifications will have the option to pursue a Master of Science degree in Biomedical Science from UConn.

YIIP is a full-time graduate program at UConn that provides a focused research experience for underrepresented minority post-baccalaureate students dedicated to pursuing scientific careers in in biological and biomedical science. YIIP provides the academic training and tools to Scholars to conduct research, succeed in an academic environment, and become competitive candidates for a M.D., M.D.-Ph.D., or Ph.D. program.  CICATS created YIIP to develop the next generation of innovative biomedical scientists, in addition to addressing the dire need to increase the number of minority students entering the field of medicine and research.

Almost 30 applications were received through a far-reaching competitive application process from students across the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  The selected YIIP Scholars distinguished themselves based on academic merit, research interest and career aspirations.

On Monday, August 15, CICATS held a celebratory breakfast to welcome the new YIIP Scholars. Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, chief executive officer of CICATS, provided the welcome remarks and Dr. Linda Barry, chief operating officer of CICATS and YIIP program director, introduced each Scholar and shared an overview of their background which made them compelling candidates. Each YIIP Scholar expressed their gratitude for acceptance to the program and what they hope to achieve.  Guests included administrators, faculty and staff from across UConn and UConn Health.

CICATS would like to thank the YIIP Selection Committee members: Drs. Biree Andemariam, Linda Barry, Caroline Dealy, Kimberly Dodge-Kafka, Christopher Heinen, Victor Hesselbrock, Anne Kenny, Barbara Kream, Carol Pilbeam, Anthony Vella, and Granville Wrensford. We appreciate the M1 Mentors: Drs. Elaine Lee, Syam Nukavarapu, and Anne Delany for their continued dedication and commitment to the program.

CICATS congratulates the four Scholars and looks forward to their growth and success in the program.



Aundrya Montgomery

Aundrya Montgomery, a member of the United States Army National
Guard, recently graduated from Alabama State University with a B.S.
in Biology/Pre-Health. She conducted biomedical research, with a
focus in nanotechnology. She also volunteered within the Emergency
Medical Services (EMS) department of a local fire station. Her
motivation to improve outcomes for wounded soldiers through
research is the basis for pursuing a M.D./Ph.D. degree. Aundrya
intends to practice medicine in the military while conducting research
on limb regeneration and wound healing.

Shania Aponte-Paris

Shania Aponte-Paris, a resident of Puerto Rico, graduated Magna
Cum Laude from the Universidad Adventista de los Antilles with a B.S.
in Biology. Her participation in an NIH research program at Loma
Linda University resulted in her presenting at several scientific
meetings. Shania intends to obtain her M.D./Ph.D. degree at a medical
school in the United States.

Aaliyah Riccardi

Aaliyah Riccardi graduated with Honors with a B.S. in Biology from
the University of Connecticut. As a McNair Scholar, she conducted
biomedical research in the Physiology and Neurobiology department.
Aaliyah plans to practice in the field of pediatric oncology, particularly
in underserved areas.
ArchieArchibald Agyekum-Yamoah Archibald Agyekum-Yamoah, a native of Ghana, is a U.S. permanent resident who emigrated here in 2009. He graduated from the University of Ghana with a B.S. in Zoology, and Magna Cum Laude from Southern Connecticut State University with a B.S. in Biochemistry/Chemistry and a minor in Mathematics. He was employed as a Regulatory Specialist in the private sector. Archibald intends to balance his career as a physician with conducting basic scientific research to improve the lives of underserved populations in the U.S., and collaborate with other physicians to improve the health system in Ghana.

Med student interns at National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Tiahna Spencer, second year student at the UConn School of Medicine, returned to Connecticut after completing eight weeks of research experience at the largest biomedical research agency in the world, the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Spencer’s mentor at the UConn School of Medicine, Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, encouraged her to apply for the internship, which brought her to Bethesda, Maryland, at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases in the lab of Dr. Mariana Kaplan, renowned researcher of systemic autoimmune diseases.

“I am convinced she will continue being a successful physician/researcher,” Laurencin wrote in his letter of recommendation to the NIH. “She has the right mix of intelligence, initiative and work ethic to make her succeed in anything.”

The full article is available in UConn Today.


CICATS CEO featured in Valley LIFE magazine

Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, chief executive officer of CICATS, was featured in the August 2016 issue of Valley LIFE magazine, a community publication covering the towns of Avon, Burlington, Canton, Farmington, Granby, and Simsbury, Connecticut.  Dr. Laurencin’s distinguished career and his recent honor at the White House where he was presented with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation were highlighted, as well as a Q&A.

The full article is available for viewing.

CICATS announces 2016 Pre-K Career Development Award Scholars

On behalf of Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, chief executive officer of the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS) at the University of Connecticut, and Dr. Linda Barry, CICATS assistant director and chief operating officer, we are excited to announce the 2016 CICATS Pre-K Career Development Award Scholars.

Created in 2013, the CICATS Pre-K Career Development Award Program is a 2-year interactive training experience, designed to equip junior faculty with the knowledge and competencies to effectively apply for an NIH Research Career Development Award (K Award) as well as become leaders in clinical and translational science. The award provides 30% protected time to work on developing their NIH K application, as well as funding for travel to national conferences.

CICATS congratulates all awardees!

Jessica Clement, MD Carolyn Greene, PhD Michelle P. Judge, PhD, RD, CD-N Ruth Lucas, PhD, RN
Research Title: Smoking and Immune Deviation and the Impact on Bladder Cancer Outcomes
Research Title: The Role of Parental Emotion Regulation in Evidence-Based Treatment for Children with PTSD
Research Title: Role of Long Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Reducing Inflammatory Load, Psychneurological Symptoms and Expression of Lipogenic Genes in Women Following Treatment for Early-Stage Breast Cancer
Research Title: Measuring Neonatal Sucking Microstructure During Breastfeeding in Clinical and Home Settings
Kevin J. Manning, PhD Mario F. Perez, MD, MPH Stefan Pinter, PhD Carla Rash, PhD
Research Title: Neurobiological Influences on Impulsivity and Alcohol Misuse in Young and Older Adults
Research Title: Airway Inflammatory Profile of E-Cigarette Users
Research Title: Escapee Regulation and Gene Dosage Therapy in Turner Syndrome
Research Title: Developing Sustainable Contingency Management Interventions for Soup Kitchen and Homeless Facility Patrons
Emily Wakefield, PsyD Liping Xiao, MD, PhD, MSCTR Yuping Zhang, PhD
Research Title: The Development of a Health-Related Stigma Scale for Adolescents with Chronic Pain and their Parents
Research Title: Erythropoiesis and Bone Homeostasis in Sickle Cell Disease and Sickle Cell Trait Mice
Research Title: Subtype Identification through Imaging Genetics for Alzheimer’s Disease

If you have questions about the CICATS Pre-K Career Development Award Program, please contact Trisha Pitter at