December Science Cafe: LGBTQ+ health, well-being, and experiences across the U.S.

Each month CICATS hosts a science cafe with the Kavli Foundation on a different scientific topic. Our science cafe series aims to bring science to members of the community in an engaging and informal way.

At this Science Cafe, Drs. Ryan Watson and Rebecca Puhl (Human Development and Family Studies and the Rudd Center) will share the preliminary findings from their 2017 LGBTQ Teen Survey — a national study that sampled more than 17,000 young people from every state in the US. The survey included over 150 items that assessed health (such as substance use, eating behaviors, self-esteem, etc), school experiences, disclosure of sexual and gender identity, and more. Drs. Watson and Puhl will be accompanied by an expert panel (Dr. Paul Poteat of Boston College, Dr. Micki McElya of UConn, and Robin McHaelen of True Colors) to discuss the implications of the findings as they pertain to the next steps in scholarship, goals for policy, and practical applications for parents, children, and teachers. The panel will discuss and reflect on the findings from this large national survey with the ultimate goal of contributing to engaged scholarship and providing a foundation for future action.

There will be plenty of time for audience questions and participation, as our Science Cafes are geared towards creating discussion with attendees. This event is FREE and open to everyone interested in the topic.

Topic: LGBTQ+ health, well-being, and experiences across the U.S.

When: Wednesday, December 5th, 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.

Where: Nathan Hale Inn,  855 Bolton Rd,Storrs, CT 06269

RSVP: Please use this link to RSVP for this science cafe.

For questions please contact

CICATS Staff Feature: Dr. Chia-Ling Kuo

Each month CICATS will be featuring an interview with a member of our staff. This month we are highlighting Dr. Chia-Ling Kuo of our biostatistics team.

Tell us about your role at CICATS.

I am a senior biostatistician in CICATS. I help residents and fellows with their research projects. I co-apply grants with other investigators as a co-investigator and develop my own research projects and grants with topics inspired by my collaborative work.

What do you enjoy most about your position?

I enjoy working with folks in other disciplines so I don’t always think inside my box. The communication itself is fun. It is like people who speak different languages need to get a task done. I learn what I need to know and at this point I am proud to say that I know everything at a level that is enough to impress people who don’t know anything.

What are some of your challenges?

 It is challenging that I have to support 100% of my salary. It is more challenging that people see my efforts as hours that I spend on a project and value experiments more than my expertise.

Tell us about a recent success.

I am fortunate to have a R21 funded recently that supports 30% of my salary.

What do you enjoy outside of work?

I randomly find things to do with my family mostly for my daughter. I guess my husband and I also enjoy kid-friendly activities. When we are at home, we enjoy being with our two dogs.

Dr. Kuo Chia-Ling Kuo can be reached at 860-679-2897 or by email at

JREHD Editor’s Choice Articles

Each month the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities selects two editor’s choice articles. These articles are available with free access for a limited period of time and are chosen by Dr. Cato Laurencin who serves as Editor-in-Chief. The current selections are:

Impact of Depression and Demoralization on Blood Pressure Control in African Americans with Hypertension: Findings from the TRIUMPH Trial

Dimensions of and Responses to Perceived Discrimination and Subclinical Disease Among African-Americans in the Jackson Heart Study

CICATS Staffer Lana Angelo Attends BUILDing Scholars Conference

The Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Initiative provides awards to undergraduate institutions across the country to implement and study innovative approaches to engaging and retaining students from diverse backgrounds in biomedical research. CICATS has a record of success in creating pipeline programs and research experiences in biomedical sciences for underrepresented minority students as indicated by the Young Innovative Investigator Program (YIIP) and the M1 Mentorship Program.  As a result, the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) invited UConn to be a research partner on their BUILD award.  Under the UTEP BUILD award, there are 13 Research partners, with UConn being the only academic institution from the northeast. Learn more about the most recent cohort of CICATS BUILD Scholars.

CICATS BUILD program is run by Lana Angelo. Recently, Lana traveled to Texas to attend and present at the annual BUILDing Scholars conference. She met up with all of the 2018 CICATS BUILD Scholars.

Dr. Cato Laurencin Delivers Edward Orton Jr. Memorial Lecture

On October 16, 2018, CICATS CEO Dr. Cato Laurencin gave the 2018 Edward Orton Jr. Memorial Lecture at the MS&T exhibition and meeting in Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Laurencin, a pioneer in regenerative engineering, spoke about the concept of convergence.

“We define Regenerative Engineering as a Convergence of Advanced Materials Science, Stem Cell Science, Physics, Developmental Biology, and Clinical Translation. Biomaterials play a centrally important role. Work in the area of musculoskeletal tissue regeneration has focused on a number of biomaterial technologies. Polymeric nanofiber systems create the prospect for biomimetics that recapitulate connective tissue ultrastructure allowing for the design of biomechanically functional matrices, or next generation matrices that create a niche for stem cell activity. Polymer and polymer-ceramic systems can be utilized for the regeneration of bone. Novel systems using graphene-ceramics provide new possibilities for bone regeneration. Hybrid matrices possessing micro and nano architecture can create advantageous systems for regeneration, while the use of classic principles of materials science and engineering can lead to the development of three dimensional systems suitable for functional regeneration of tissues of the knee. Through convergence of a number of technologies, with advanced materials science playing an important role, we believe the prospect of engaging future grand challenges is possible.”

For more information about the conference click here.

Leaders of CICATS Child Mental Health CIG Receive NIH Funding

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Damion Grasso, of CICATS Child Mental Health Core Interest Group (CIG), has recently received a large NIH fund (U01) related to early childhood and violence prevention research and intervention. Dr. Grasso’s work has been supported by several CICATS programs, including our Pre-K Scholar Program, CICATS CIG pilot fund, and CICATS science café program. His NIH fund info can be found here. Dr. Grasso serves as dual PI with Dr. Margaret Briggs-Gowan, who is co-leader of the Child Mental Health CIG with Grasso. Congratulations!

September Science Cafe Success

Thank you to everyone that joined us for our September Science Cafe featuring Dr. Thomas Buckley. Dr. Buckley spoke to attendees about his work and the growing importance of immigrant health. To learn more about his expertise in this area, read this article about him, written by the the University of Connecticut’s Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy (InCHIP).

November Science Cafe: Genetic Engineering

Each month CICATS hosts a free science cafe with the Kavli Foundation on a different scientific topic. Our science cafe series aims to bring science to members of the community in an engaging and informal way.

Genetic engineering and synthetic biology are relatively new fields that are gaining media attention and causing great amounts of debate – both from the scientific and ethical points of view. Attendees at this November cafe will hear background knowledge for rational, evidence-based discussion of the topic. Representatives from UConn iGem will speak about their work and Mark Mimee of the MIT Synthetic Biology Group will speak more about the topic. Cafes are intended to be interactive, so audience questions and participation is greatly encouraged.

The Cafe speakers believe expert driven education is crucial to furthering the field and for cultivating public trust in researchers. They aim to discuss what challenges face synthetic biology, ethical risks posed by developing technologies in the field, and what the expansion of such research could have in store. Topics of discussion include, but are not limited to, genetically modified crops (GMOs), the possibility of genetic modifications in humans, biosecurity, novel applications of genetic technologies, and the development of newer and cheaper methods.

Topic: Genetic Engineering

When: Friday, November 16th, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.

Where: Hilltop Restaurant, 39 Adamec Rd, Willington, CT 06279

Cost: FREE

RSVP: Please use this link to RSVP for this science cafe.

For questions please contact


YIIP Scholars Meet Dr. Stacey Finley

CICATS Young Innovative Investigator Program (YIIP) Scholars had a special meeting with Dr. Stacey Finley during Postdoc Research Day at UConn. Dr. Finley is Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering and the Gordon S. Marshall Early Career Chair at the University of Southern California. She provided the keynote address at the event and spoke about systems biology modelings ability to predict the dynamics of reaction networks in cancer.

Learn more about YIIP here.

CICATS Attends BioFabUSA 2018 Fall Summit

CICATS staff member Dr. Kevin Lo attended the 2018 BioFabUSA Fall Summit held at the Technology Center Auditorium in Manchester, New Hampshire. The summit is organized by the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI) and this years topic was: Accelerating the Commercialization of Engineered Organs and Tissues.

Dr. Lakshmi Nair, Associate Professor, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, UConn Health Center and Dr. Liisa T. Kuhn, Associate Professor & Associate Head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the School of Dental Medicine, University of Connecticut Health Center, also attended the summit. Dr. Kuhn’s presentation was titled Standardization Strategies to Advance the Biofabrication Industry.

For more information about ARMI visit their website.