September Science Cafe: The Rising Importance of Immigrant Health

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.

For this September event, attendees will hear from Dr. Thomas Buckley of the UConn School of Pharmacy, about the importance of healthcare access for refugees and the underserved. There will be ample time for discussion after Dr. Buckley’s remarks. This event is free and all are invited to attend. Food and beverages will be provided.

For more details about Dr. Buckley’s research and experience in this area, check out this article titled, Promoting Healthcare Access for Refugees and the Underserved is a Mission for Tom Buckley.

Topic: The Rising Importance of Immigrant Health

When: Thursday, September 27th, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.

Where: Costa del Sol, 901 Wethersfield Ave, Hartford, CT 06114

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

For questions please contact

CICATS Celebrates Outgoing Pre-K Scholars

In late June CICATS celebrated our outgoing class of Pre-K Scholars. The Pre-K Scholar Award Program is a 2-year interactive program designed to equip junior faculty with the knowledge and competencies to effectively apply for an NIH Research Career Development Awards (K award) as well as become leaders in clinical and translational science.

“The Pre-K program was highly beneficial to me as I completed the last 2 years of my tenure-track position,” said Michelle Judge, outgoing Pre-K Scholar. “The protected time and support of research productivity was very helpful. Using these supports, I have now secured tenure and promotion to Associate Professor. The directors provided fantastic insights for me as I build my own research trajectory. Discussion of day to day struggles to balance being a scientist and keep demands balanced with life was a wonderful support to me. Many of the speakers were helpful with various aspects of research. Overall, I had a great experience in the Pre-K program and am thankful for the opportunity.”

You can read more about the outgoing Scholars on our website. We look forward to following them along their research career paths and wish them all the best.

Special note: CICATS would also like to thank Anne Kenny for her contributions as a Pre-K Scholar Award Program co-director. Dr. Mark Litt will take her place as co-director for the incoming group in July.

Dr. Laurencin Mentee Tiahna Spencer Selected for NIH Research Program

CICATS is proud to announce that Tiahna Spencer, M.D. Candidate at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, is one of 37 talented students selected for the Medical Research Scholars Program (MRSP) by the National Institutes of Health. Tiahna is a mentee of CICATS CEO Dr. Cato Laurencin.

The MRSP allows medical, dental, and veterinary students to pause their university studies to live on the intramural campus of NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, and conduct basic, clinical, or translational research. The accepted scholars begin their fellowship in July/August 2018.

“I am very excited to participate in the NIH Medical Research Scholars Program, as this experience will afford me the opportunity to further develop my research skills and experiences at one of the world’s leading research centers,” said Tiahna. “I hope to draw from this experience, a skill or life lesson that will contribute to my development into the physician I intend to become.”

More information is available on the NIH website.

June Science Cafe Gets Squiddy With It

CICATS June Science Cafe was a terrific success, bringing together over 60 people including researchers, interested members of the public, school teachers and even some kids! Attendees heard a dynamic presentation from UConn scientist Sarah McAnulty about her work with squid and how friendly bacteria communicate. Following her presentation there was a 30 minute question and answer period with questions ranging from “Why are squid so squishy?” to questions about gene mapping. Sarah also discussed another project called Skype a Scientist, which she created as a vehicle to connect real world scientists with classrooms across the world.

CICATS Announces Selection of New Pre-K Program Co-Director (Press Release)

For Immediate Release June 7, 2018

FARMINGTON — The Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS) at the University of Connecticut announces the selection of Dr. Mark D. Litt as Co-Director of the Pre-K Scholar Award Program.

The goals of the Pre-K Scholar Award Program include: (1) helping scholars develop the skills needed to compete for an NIH K award, (2) providing Pre-K Scholars with mentoring and career development guidance and (3) providing opportunities to connect with investigators across the UConn campuses.

“The Pre-K Program is one of the cornerstones of the work we do at CICATS,” said Dr. Cato Laurencin, CICATS CEO. “We are training faculty to have the skills to effectively apply for an NIH K award while also providing valuable mentoring and networking opportunities.”

Dr. Litt is a Professor in the Division of Behavioral Sciences and Community Health in the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine, and also holds appointments in Psychiatry and in Obstetrics and Gynecology in the School of Medicine. “I am excited to have this opportunity to help support junior faculty, not only in guiding them through the application process for an NIH K award, but also in providing career development guidance,” said Dr. Litt.

Dr. Litt replaces Dr. Anne M. Kenny who contributed to the success of CICATS Pre-K Program for several years. He joins current Co-Directors Dr. Lisa C. Barry and Dr. Julie Robison, both of the University of Connecticut Center on Aging.

“The Pre-K program has experienced much success as many of our scholars have gone on to apply for NIH grants. We welcome Dr. Litt to our team and look forward to working with him,” said Dr. Barry.

To learn more about CICATS Pre-K Scholar Award Program visit our website.

For more information contact Michelle Noehren at

CICATS Research Staff Present Poster at UConn Center for mHealth and Social Media Conference

In mid-May, CICATS staff Dr. Helen Wu and Megan Wing attended the UConn Center For mHealth and Social Media Conference. The topic of the conference was Digital Health at the Intersection of Academia and Industry and featured engaging remarks on issues such as app development, the use of virtual reality in health care, and online research networks. Dr. Wu and Megan presented a poster about CICATS Just Us Moving Project (JUMP) which aims to improve diabetes control by reducing the hemoglobin A1C levels of people in African/Black and Hispanic/Latino American communities by encouraging increased physical activity. JUMP utilizes a mobile health tool called Fitabase and is considering development of an app.

MIT Black Graduate Celebration

CICATS CEO Dr. Cato Laurencin was the keynote speaker at MIT’s 2018 Black Graduate Celebration.  The theme was The Road to 50: Dedication, Perseverance, Excellence and the accomplishments of the Class of 2018 graduates, both undergraduates and graduate students, were acknowledged.

“Dr. Laurencin spoke of a myriad of things, interweaving presentation of his groundbreaking medical research, with words of wisdom and words to live by,” said Michelle Harton, leader of the Black Graduation Celebration. “To this, he shared with us parts of his personal life as he shared wisdom learned from his family, the students that he mentors and supports and, even his creation of the Regenerative Engineering Society. With humor and transformative insight, let me not leave out his experiences as being the ring side doctor for fights, he even shared lessons learned from Mike Tyson. We appreciated all he had to share.”

A report of the event is available online.

CICATS May Science Cafe Brings Together Researchers, Community Providers & Stakeholders

CICATS May Science Cafe was hosted by Dr. Damion Grasso and brought together 75+ people interested in family violence research and intervention. The cafe featured a series of “flash talks” including:

  • The Children’s Center on Family Violence. Nina Livingston, MD, Co-Director, Children’s Center on Family Violence, Office of Community Child Health, CT Children’s Medical Center.
  • Connecticut Children’s Suspected Child Abuse & Neglect (SCAN) Program. Nina Livingston, MD, Medical Director, Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect Program, CT Children’s Medical Center.
  • Evidence-Based Interventions for Treating Mental Health Problems in Violence-Exposed Children. Jason Lang, PhD, Vice President for Mental Health Initiatives, Child Health and Development Institute.
  • Support for a Two-Generation Approach to Addressing Young Children’s Response to IPV. Carolyn Greene, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, UConn Health Center.
  • DV Shelter and Advocacy Services for Connecticut Families: Prudence Crandall Center. Lorraine Gauthier, Associate Director, Prudence Crandall Center.
  • The Problem with Dual Arrests in DV Situations in Connecticut and Its Impact on Children. Karen Jarmoc, Chief Executive Officer, Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
  • Resiliency and Mental Health Screening in Connecticut’s DV Shelter System. Ashley Bolella, LCSW, SCAN Program, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
  • Child First: An Evidence-Based Intervention for Young Children and Families Exposed to Violence. Darcy Lowell, MD, Founder and CEO, Child First.
  • Unpacking Children’s Responses to Inter-parental Conflict and Linkages to Psychological Symptoms. Alysse Loomis, LCSW, PhD Candidate, UConn School of Social Work.
  • The Scope of Children’s Exposure to DV Among DCF Referred Families. Rebecca Beebe, PhD, Research Scientist, Injury Prevention Center, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
  • Culture Counts: Increasing Awareness of the Interaction Among Mental Health, Trauma, and DV in the Latino Community. Rocio Chang-Angulo, PsyD, Assistant Professor, UConn Health Center.
  • Engaging Boys and Young Men in Promoting Non-Violence: The CCADV “I Choose’ Campaign. Linda Blozie, Director of Training and Prevention, Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
  • The DCF IPV Family Assessment Intervention Response (FAIR) Initiative Serving DV Impacted Families. Susan DiVietro, PhD, Research Scientist, Injury Prevention Center, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
  • Examining Biobehavioral Indicators of Stress Reactivity in Young DV Exposed Children: The Adaptation & Resilience in Childhood Study. Margaret Briggs-Gowan, PhD, Associate Professor, UConn Health Center.
  • DV Exposure and Trauma-Related Psychopathology among Pregnant Women. Damion Grasso, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, UConn Health Center.

Each month CICATS hosts a Science Café with our partner the Kavli Foundation. Science Cafés are events that take place in casual settings such as restaurants and coffeehouses, are open to everyone, and feature an engaging conversation with a scientist about a particular topic. Attendees do not need to have a scientific background to participate. Bridging the scientific community and the community-at-large is a priority for CICATS. Our next cafe will be held on June 8th.

CICATS Hosts Students from Covenant Prep

CICATS hosted students from Covenant Preparatory School and gave them a hands-on tour of Dr. Laurencin’s lab. Covenant Prep provides young men from underserved communities the foundation required to successfully pursue higher education, to develop the strength of their character and to inspire them to live with integrity as leaders committed to their communities. CICATS has had a partnership with the school for many years and this recent tour is just one of our many collaborations aimed at exposing youth science.