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.

Dr. Cato Laurencin Selected One of the Top 100 Blacks in CT

CICATS is very proud to announce that our CEO, Dr. Cato Laurencin, was selected as one of the top 100 Blacks in Connecticut by the State Conference of NAACP Branches. He was honored at an event held at Foxwoods on Saturday, September 22nd.

“We are thrilled to honor Black men and women in Connecticut who are making a difference in our communities,” said NAACP State President Scot X. Esdaile. “This event gives us the opportunity to reflect on our important victories over the NAACP’s past 109 Years, strengthen old relationships and create new ones, as we prepare to continue to take on the constant challenges that face our people on a daily basis.”

To learn more you can watch this video from WTNH.

CICATS Participates in Urban League Backpack Event

CICATS was a proud sponsor of the Urban League of Greater Hartford Young Professionals annual back to school giveaway event. This event provides backpacks and back to school supplies to those in need. The event featured family fun activities as well as booths from various community organizations. CICATS provided an interactive table display that asked kids their ideas about how to regenerate a limb.

CICATS Welcomes Six New Young Innovative Investigator Program Scholars

The Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS) at the University of Connecticut announces the selection of six new Young Innovative Investigator Program (YIIP) Scholars. These new YIIP Scholars are college graduates prepared to complete graduate level coursework and conduct supervised research in biomedical laboratories on the UConn Health campus.

YIIP, which began in 2013, aims to provide academic training to underrepresented minority students who are dedicated to pursuing careers as scientists and scholars in biological and biomedical science with the intent of developing the next generation of innovative biomedical scientists and increasing diversity among the pool of academic scientists. YIIP Scholars earn a stipend through their employment as UConn Graduate Assistants and tuition expenses associated with required graduate level courses are waived.

“YIIP is an essential program for CICATS,” said Dr. Cato Laurencin, CICATS CEO. “The program provides tools for Scholars to conduct research, succeed in an academic environment, and become competitive candidates for medical or graduate school. Increasing the number of underrepresented minority students in the fields of science and medicine is one of our primary goals as an Institute.”

This will be the third cohort of YIIP Scholars. The 2018 Scholars are:

  • John Garcia, University of Connecticut
  • Joshua Green, Southern Connecticut State University
  • Anisha Lewis, Brown University
  • Jaliyah Peterson, Spelman College
  • Kaussar Rahman, Mount Holyoke College
  • Savannah Samuel, Xavier University Of Louisiana

Mentoring is a key component of YIIP and each Scholar is currently in the process of selecting a UConn scientist to serve as their mentor. Additionally, YIIP Scholars have access to CICATS M1 Mentors Dr. Jennifer Cavallari of UConn Health, Dr. Nicholas Leadbeater of UConn, Storrs, and Dr. William Zempsky of the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.

“Mentoring has proven highly beneficial for the success of underrepresented minority students across the entire academic pipeline,” said Lana Angelo, YIIP Program Coordinator. “Our program teaches the Scholars how to select the right mentor and lab placement, and we guide these students every step of the way during their time at the UConn Graduate School.”

To learn more about CICATS Young Innovative Investigator Program please visit our website.

CICATS BUILD Scholars Present Final Projects

Pictured: CICATS 2018 BUILD Scholars with CICATS CEO Dr. Cato Laurencin

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.  In 2014, the National Institute of Health (NIH) granted 10 five-year BUILD (Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity) awards.  The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) was one of the 10 core institutions to receive the award which led to the formation of the Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity: Southwest Consortium of Health-Oriented Education Leaders and Research Scholars (BUILDing Scholars) program. Under the UTEP BUILD award, there are 13 Research partners, with UConn being the only academic institution from the northeast.

The third cohort of CICATS BUILD Scholars recently completed their summer research experiences. In addition to their summer research project, the Scholars attended weekly CICATS Summer Seminar Series lectures on topics such as research ethics and translational research, received additional personalized mentorship by M1 Mentors, and had the opportunity to present a poster of their research at UConn Health. The names and final presentations of our BUILD Scholars are as follows:

  • Luisa Castillo – laboratory of Dr. Leslie Caromile – “The role of Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen (PSMA) on One Carbon Metabolism of Prostate Cancer”
  • Gabriel Garcia – laboratory of Dr. Cato Laurencin – “Fabrication and characterization of electrospun PLLA/CAP and PLGA/CAP nanofiber blends for tissue engineering applications”
  • Janet Olivas – laboratory of Dr. Steven Szcepanek – “Searching for the elusive mycoplasma pneumoniae vaccine”
  • Joshua Preciado – laboratory of Dr. David Steffens – “Cognitive Variability and Brain Aging in Late-Life Depression”
  • Tania Miramontes – laboratory of Dr. David Martinelli – “C1QL1 synaptic protein mediating hyperacusis‐like behavior”

For questions about the BUILD program, contact Lana Angelo at

Over 100 Students Register for CICATS Seminar Series

During the past 6 weeks, over 100 students registered for CICATS seminar series. Each summer, CICATS offers these free weekly seminars to students interested in pursuing careers as scientists and scholars in biological and biomedical sciences. This years topics included:

  • Scientific Writing & Presenting at Scientific Conferences
  • Translational Research
  • Preparing for Medical and/or Graduate School
  • Publishing in Academic Journals
  • Wet Lab: Basic Science Techniques
  • Preparing a CV and Personal Statement
  • Research Ethics and the Role of the IRB

Thank you to all the UConn faculty that helped make these seminars a success. For questions about our seminar series please contact Lana Angelo at

Journal of Racial & Ethnic Health Disparities Editor’s Choice Articles – August

CICATS CEO Dr. Cato Laurencin is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. Dr. Laurencin acknowledges the quality of papers selected by the Journal by choosing in each issue two articles that are outstanding with respect to scientific quality and relevance to the field. Editor’s choice selections will be available with temporary free access to full-text articles.

August Editor’s Choice Articles (free access through September 19, 2018)

High Risk of Depression in High-Income African American Boys

Factors Contributing to Disparities in Baseline Neurocognitive Performance and Concussion Symptom Scores Between Black and White Collegiate Athletes

CICATS Welcomes Hanna Koziol

CICATS is pleased to announce that Hanna Koziol has joined the team as an Administrative Officer. Hanna has been with UConn Health for over 19 years and comes to the Institute with extensive administrative experience. She previously worked in departments such as Finance, Human Resources, the Department of Psychiatry and Correctional Managed Health Care. She can be reached at 860-679-6550 or


CICATS Congratulates Former Research Assistant Yu-Bo Wang

This August, former CICATS Research Assistant Yu-Bo Wang will become assistant professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Clemson University. Dr. Wang credits his experience at CICATS for shaping his career path.

“In June of 2012 I received one of the best birthday gifts in my life from Professor Grady, Director of CICATS Biostatistic Center,” said Dr. Wang. “It was an email offering a research assistant position in CICATS. Till today, I still remember that excitement when seeing his message. This unique 4-year experience (2012-2016) enriched my Ph.D. life and keeps influencing my road of research for good. I benefited greatly from the consulting skills and attitudes that Professor Grady taught me. During this period, I was exposed to different applications of statistics and was trained to work independently with physicians. Additionally, CICATS staff are incredibly kind and always gave me good advice when I faced difficulty. CICATS was my leaping point and without that experience I wouldn’t be where I am now.”

Everyone here at CICATS wishes him the best of luck at his new position.

Dr. Cato Laurencin Presents at Noyce Summit

CICATS CEO Dr. Cato Laurencin presented at the recent Noyce Summit which was co-hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Education and Human Resources Program (EHR) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE). The topic this year was, Towards a 2026 STEM Education: Implications of Convergent Science for K-12 STEM Teacher Preparation in the Face of Changing Student Demographics.

Attendees Lisa Thompson and Sharon Cameron, both science teacher leaders in elementary schools on Staten Island and Brooklyn, said Dr. Laurencin’s remarks were “inspirational and eye opening.” They are pictured with Dr. Laurencin below.