Dr. Steven L. Suib Elected as an NAI Fellow

CICATS is proud to announce that Dr. Steven L. Suib of the University of Connecticut has been elected as a National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Fellow. The NAI Fellows Selection Committee chose Dr. Suib because he has “demonstrated a highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.” Election to NAI Fellow status is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors.

“As CEO of the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science and President of the UConn Chapter of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), I am thrilled that Dr. Suib has been elected as an NAI fellow,” said Dr. Cato T. Laurencin. “His commitment to innovation and inventorship is inspiring and I congratulate him on this great achievement.”

Dr. Suib has been invited to attend the Fellows Induction Ceremony on April 5, 2018 at The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. Andrew H. Hirshfeld, U.S. Commissioner for Patents, will provide the keynote address for the ceremony.

Visualize Health Equity – Cristina Valentin

Yesterday we shared one of two art submissions that are part of the National Academy of Medicine’s health equity project called Visualize Health Equity. Today we are shining a spotlight on Cristina Valentin, UConn M.D. Candidate, Class of 2019. Below is an essay she wrote that is part of a new permanent online gallery.


-Are you Indian?

-No, I’m Puerto Rican.

-Well, there are a lot of Puerto Ricans outside where I live and they’re disgusting.

One would think that this elderly woman verified my ethnicity to decide whether or not to make that statement, but this patient at my clinical site proceeded to complain about the Puerto Ricans who lived in the inner city where she now lives. I was merely taking her social history. I had just asked her how she spent her typical day, only to find out that she did not enjoy the experience of walking her dog because she did not like walking among my people.

“They litter, they do this, and they do that. The women are all right, you see them out with their children or getting their groceries, but the men… Sometimes I am the only white person on the bus! I feel like I need an escort. There are Puerto Rican aids in my living facility, and they’re all right, but then you go outside and you see that… You just cannot help but start feeling a certain way about the whole race! They made me a racist!”

Remaining calm was rather easier than I would have expected. I was barely offended. After all, I was not unaware that people like this woman existed. In fact, right around the time I moved to the continental USA, a group of my Puerto Rican friends and I had been told that “you girls changed my view on Puerto Rican women.” The man’s implication was that he had previously viewed Puerto Rican women as vulgar. Too much was wrong with that view. I settled on merely pointing out that there was some selection bias, so to speak, in the observations he recalled to generalize that Puerto Rican women lack sophistication. For example, if I simply walked by this man in the mall, he would make no notice of me and thus not register me as a Puerto Rican. If I was being loud, dressing provocatively, or engaging in any other behaviors that he deemed unattractive or lacking of class, he would notice me and add me to his mental list of Puerto Ricans. Thus, this mental collection of Puerto Rican women would only include those whose behaviors stood out to him because he saw them in a negative light. Thankfully, the man agreed.

I figured this lady would not be as receptive. She had previously been criticizing the food that was available to her at the retreat, the people whom she could not stand there, and finally the neighborhood. I wished that she could have recognized that it was just the neighborhood that was rough, rather than a whole ethnicity. I also wished that she had wondered why so much of the Hispanic population lived in poverty, rather than dismissing an entire nationality as disgusting. I let her ramble on, wondering what would be the appropriate way to react or how much I should stand up for myself and for the people of my nationality. I felt helpless: I knew a discussion on prejudice would have gotten me nowhere. I limited myself to commenting that the specific behaviors she was observing from her Puerto Ricans neighbors were more likely than not a result of their socioeconomic conditions, rather than the blood that ran in their veins. Of course, that did not change her mind and any further discussion would not have made for a good oral presentation to my preceptor. I finally regained control of the interview and wrapped up.

In our pre-clinical curriculum, it has been discussed that experiences of racism are detrimental to the health of minorities, both directly —by affecting their mental health or physical safety—and indirectly, though their interactions with health care professionals. We have also discussed implicit bias among healthcare professionals, which can affect how their patients are treated. However, the other side of the coin had never been discussed: when it is the patients who discriminate. The easy response to offensive interactions such as these would be to turn a deaf ear and just treat the patient’s medical condition. That is what I did. I could have acted in the manner in which I believe a decent human being should act in general. I could have pointed out that there were a multitude of factors that she was not considering before making a generalization about my people: the historical context of the Puerto Rican migration to the United States, the quality of the jobs available to them, and the cultural, social, and economic hardships they faced. I did not do this. Caught between my duty to understand this patient and my desire to defend my people, I ultimately proceeded to act like the doctor that I was training to be. All I could do about my frustrations was write, and hope that this woman left with a better view of my people.

To view the full gallery, click here.

Visualize Health Equity – Antea Demarsilis

Earlier this year, the National Academy of Medicine called on artists from across the nation to illustrate what health equity looks, sounds, and feels like to them. They received over 100 submissions, including paintings, drawings, poetry, photos, videos, spoken word, and more. We are thrilled that two UConn medical students were selected for inclusion in their permanent online gallery. Health equity is a priority of CICATS, and as such we will be highlighting these students on our blog.

Today we are sharing a submission from Antea Demarsilis, M.D. Candidate, Class of 2020.

“To me, health equity means the arrival to a moment in which systems, of health, education, justice, and utility, have been designed with and for the communities they are meant to serve such that the communities’ individual members are empowered to occupy themselves with their hopes, dreams, curiosities, and pursuit of self-actualization rather than with their systemically inflicted worries, ailments, sentences, and pursuit of basic survival. As a medical student, it is my responsibility to see the possibility for health equity in my community and pursue it daily with urgency, creativity, and dedication.

This mixed-media piece depicts my very first patient. From the left, he is washed over by watercolor bleeding into and across itself in the colors of bruises, vomit, pus, and blood. I work with this patient when he was experiencing homelessness in the city I lived in. He had survived a gunshot wound to the head at nine years old. Previously incarcerated, he had survived brutality at the hands of those meant to protect him that left him without the ability of his legs. He faced barriers to employment, housing, transportation, and medical care that occupied his time and energy every day. He was an artist, a poet, a singer and a father. On the right is my vision for health equity. This patient now holds empty pages to write on as he explores his passion for poetry. His body is a vessel guiding him into to the vivid color and texture of life, rather than a boat receiving the crashing waves of health disparity. By pursuing health equity, the bodies of my community will no longer be occupied with trying to keep up in systems not designed for their success. They will instead be empowered to live, work, learn and play in their community.”

For more information about the Visualize Health Equity art project, click here.

CICATS Science Café on Methodology Advances in Patient Centered Outcomes Research (MAPCOR): A Kavli BRAIN Event (12/8/2017)

You are invited to attend our CICATS Science Café on Methodology Advances in Patient Centered Outcomes Research (MAPCOR): A Kavli BRAIN Event.

Topic: Patient Centered Outcomes Research
Speaker: Dr. Richard Fortinsky, Professor, UConn Center on Aging
Title: Design and Implementation of Patient-Centered Outcomes Research with Cognitively Vulnerable Older Adults and their Families
Date: Friday, December 8th
Time: 4:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Location: Cell and Genomic Science Building, Grossman Auditorium, 400 Farmington Ave, UConn Health, Farmington CT (Plenty of free parking)

Food and beverages will be provided. This event is free and open to the general public. Space is limited.

Please RSVP to Dr. Helen Wu (zwu@uchc.edu) or Dr. Chia-Ling Kuo (kuo@uchc.edu). We look forward to seeing you at this interactive event with Dr. Fortinsky.

Event: CICATS Science Cafe on Structural Biology Meets Drug Discovery @ UConn – 9/11/17 @ 4:00PM

Date: Monday, September 11, 2017

Time: 4:00-7:00 PM

Place: Nathan Hale Inn on the Storrs Campus

Sponsored by the UConn Partnership for Excellence in Structural Biology, CICATS and The Kavli Foundation

Featuring: Dr. Jonathan Moore, Senior Research Fellow and Vice President, Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Followed by Group Discussion on Challenges and Opportunities moderated by Drs. Sandra Weller (UConn Health) and Dennis Wright (UConn Pharmacy), co-leaders of the CICATS Drug Discovery Core Interest Group

Light supper will be served.  Attendance is free and open to the public.

Registration required via email to pschultz@uchc.edu


New Course in the Master’s program in Clinical and Translational Research

CICATS’s Master of Science Program in Clinical and Translational Research is offering a new course in Fall 2017, entitled “CLTR 5360: Critical Issues Involving Science Publication:  The Scientific Review (3 credits, class # 17063).” The course will be taught by Cato Laurencin, MD, PhD; Helen Wu, PhD; Kevin Lo, PhD; and Jorge Escobar Ivirico, PhD.  The course registration via Graduate School is open to clinicians, residents, medical students, MPH students and graduate students who are interested in clinical and translational research.

If you have any inquiries, contact Dr. Helen Wu.

CICATS Luncheon Seminar Series featuring Mary Woolley, President and CEO of Research!America on December 16

mwheadshotcolor2012We are exited to announce an upcoming CICATS Luncheon Seminar Series on Friday, December 16, 2016 in the Low Learning Center at UConn Health, from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Mary Woolley, President and CEO, of Research!America, the nation’s largest nonprofit public education and advocacy alliance, will present on the topic, “Your Role in Changing Hearts and Minds for Science,” which will focus on the state of research relating to the incoming White House administration:

For the first time in six years both legislative branches and the White House will be in the same party’s hands. During this unprecedented time of transition, scientists must help ensure that the public, media, new and current policymakers hear about the benefits of research from the standpoint of how science contributes to economic growth and prosperity, national security, and better health. At a time when Congress and the public may be taking medical progress for granted, if they think about it at all, and given heightened public and policymaker demand for less government spending as well as more transparency and accountability, scientists themselves need to be more engaged in public outreach. Mary Woolley, president and CEO, Research!America will discuss the current state of federal science and health research agency budgets, share relevant public opinion survey data and provide insights on how to effectively communicate with the public, policymakers and the media.

Lunch will be provided starting at 12:30 p.m.
Registration is now closed. The seminar may be viewed by visiting our MediaSite page and selecting “CICATS Seminar Series.”

This luncheon seminar is hosted by the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS) at UConn and the Kavli Foundation.


Two-day OHRP Research Community Forum coming to Hartford, October 25-26

ohrpHartford HealthCare and the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) are hosting a Research Community Forum, “Foundations of Trust: Connecting Our Community to Research” on Tuesday, October 25-26, 2016 at the Hartford Marriott Downtown. The two-day event will include exhibits, presentations, interactive workshops and networking opportunities.

Dr. Linda Barry, chief operating officer and assistant director of CICATS, will be a featured speaker at the forum.

For more information and to register, please visit the symposium website.

The “Kavli BRAIN Coffee Hour” – Pursuing the Frontiers of Brain Science

The Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS) at the University of Connecticut  is excited to report on the beginnings of the “Kavli BRAIN Coffee Hour” program and extends our thanks to the Kavli Foundation for their generous gift in the amount of $10,000.

This program aims to serve as an incubator to UConn Health, affiliated institutions and investigators in the preparation of proposals to the national BRAIN Initiative.

Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative funding opportunities for research, study, applied science and technology are channeled through the National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the National Science Foundation.

As a national initiative with an initial federal commitment of $100 million in FY 2014, it is clear that the Obama administration believes in the future of this research. A further demonstration of commitment comes from a recent press release concerning FY 2015 funding:

“The President’s 2015 Budget proposes to double the Federal investment in The BRAIN Initiative from about $100 million in FY 2014 to approximately $200 million in FY 2015.

Given the audacious goals of the initiative, the President has called for this to be an “all hands on deck” effort involving not only the Federal Government but also companies, health systems, patient advocacy organizations, philanthropists, state governments, research universities, private research institutes, and scientific societies.”

Supporting our effort to identify and secure funding available through the BRAIN initiative is our own Investigator Advocate and Assistant Professor, Dr. Tao Jiang. Dr. Jiang  held the first official “Kavli BRAIN Coffee Hour” program on Friday, April 4th at UConn Health. He was joined by four senior investigators, Drs. David Steffens, Richard Mains, Louise McCullough and Douglas Oliver. The group discussed strengths and possible opportunities of UConn’s neuroscience-related research and outlined a focus for response to future funding opportunities for the BRAIN Initiative.

The next step is to have a follow-up “Kavli BRAIN Coffee Hour” in May with the inclusion of more investigators from both UConn Health and UConn Storrs for deeper discussions on the BRAIN Initiative.

The time is yet to be determined and the meeting location is tentatively in downtown Hartford area.

Please inform your colleagues who may be interested in joining the “Kavli BRAIN Coffee Hour” and contact Dr. Jiang at Jiang@uchc.edu or 860-679-7161 with any inquiries.

CICATS Announces Recipients of M1 Mentoring Awards

As a new and innovative program, the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS) at UConn has launched the M1 Mentoring Award. The M1 Award is aimed at increasing and sustaining successful research funded faculty to serve as mentors in increasing underrepresented minority students among the pool of academic scientists. Through the M1 Award program, CICATS at UConn will develop a cadre of accomplished investigators who will participate in developing an academic environment that will elevate and reward mentorship at the University and in the region.

CICATS at UConn is excited to announce it has concluded the competition and selected 3 recipients to be awarded a three year M1 Award. The M1 Award recipients are:

Anne M. Delany, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Center for Molecular Medicine, Department of Medicine at UConn Health

Elaine Choung-Hee Lee, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Kinesiology at UConn Storrs

Syam Nukavarapu, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Orthopaedic Surgery at UConn Health

Each M1 Award recipient will receive $50,000 each, inclusive of 25% protected time for mentoring activities which include mentorship of individual students, participation in the development and execution of various CICATS led mentorship initiatives, and participating in training in the art and science of mentoring minority students. An additional $10,000 will provide for student related activities towards enhancing academic growth such as research training and travel to scientific meetings.

CICATS congratulates the 2014 M1 Mentoring Awardees. We look forward to seeing the outstanding results of their endeavors.