Recruitment: UTEP BUILD Summer Sabbatical Program for Faculty

The Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS) at UConn is partnered with the University at Texas at El Paso (UTEP), as a Research Partner institution, on their funded 5-year NIH Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Initiative (U54) grant that is aimed at engaging undergraduate students in innovative mentored research training programs. BUILD awards also support institutional and faculty development to further strengthen undergraduate research training environments.

Currently, CICATS is recruiting host faculty members from UConn Health and UConn Storrs to participate in the fourth year of the UTEP BUILDing Summer Sabbatical Program for Faculty

About the Summer Sabbatical Program for Faculty
This program provides interested faculty members from UTEP and the BUILDing SCHOLARS Pipeline Partner institutions to collaborate with a host faculty member at one of 13 Research Partner institutions on health-related research during a 10-week summer period (June-August 2018).  Hosts are expected to provide a work space for their faculty mentee, welcome the mentee into their research team/lab, and provide mentorship to the faculty mentee over the summer.  Host faculty members will receive a stipend of $2,000 for accommodating the visiting researcher.  Each visiting researcher will receive a $14,000 stipend to cover housing and travel expenses, as well as an honorarium. This program is an important step towards establishing collaborative ties between the institutions involved and will run all five summers of the grant.  Five awards will be made for summer 2018 and selected faculty will be alerted in late March.

If you are interested in participating, please complete the Summer Sabbatical Program for Faculty Interest Form no later than Thursday, February 15th.

For reference, last year’s awardees are highlighted here.

Biomedical Entrepreneurship Course- Fall 2018

CICATS CEO Dr. Cato Laurencin is a co-director of the Biomedical Entrepreneurship Course taking place during the Fall of 2018.

Course Details:

  • The course will be held Wednesdays, 3:00-6:00 p.m. at the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, 222 Pitkin Street, East Hartford
  • The course is presently offered only in the Fall semester.
  • Application (available on this page) is required before registration.
  • 3-credit course.
  • The course is cross-listed in the Schools of Engineering (BME 6086-020) and Business (BADM 5894-011 and MGMT 5895-012).

Teams will be coached by industry experts who address fundamental topics in biomedical entrepreneurship. Students will gain experience that will help them be entrepreneurs in startups or with established firms. Projects will be presented to external experts and teams will be considered for subsequent awards/funding.

This course is designed for graduate students or very advanced undergraduates. It represents a multi-disciplinary effort between the Schools of Engineering, Business, Medicine, Pharmacy, and Liberal Arts and Sciences and will be co-taught by expert faculty from these schools. Interdisciplinary teams will tackle real clinical needs to offer technical solutions and business models that might enable future commercialization.

For more information click here.

CICATS to Host HASUG February Meeting

CICATS is pleased to be hosting the February Meeting of the Hartford Area SAS Users Group (HASUG). All are invited to attend this free meeting and listen to the featured speakers.

The meeting will take place on Friday, February 23rd from 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. in the Grossman Auditorium at the Cell and Genome Sciences Building located at 400 Farmington Ave, Farmington, CT.  Coffee and a light breakfast will be provided. Parking is free, but please park in locations marked as Area 3. When you pull into the driveway, turn right and drive past the building. There is a large parking lot there.

Confirmed seminars:

An Interesting Application of Predictive Modelling in the Health Insurance and Marketing Space, Presenter: Robert Clauss

Texting Mining – Data Prep, Presenter: Bryan Barbera, Performance Manager, Eversource

Moving Towards Asking Causal Questions Through Latent Difference Scores (LDS). A working session on the use of Proc Calis in health disparities research. Presenter: Emil Coman, Ph.D., Research Associate II, Health Disparities Institute, UCONN Health

Case Study of SAS Performance on SSD vs. Traditional Hard Drive, Presenter: ZehuaLaura Xia, Pitney Bowes

To register click here. For questions please contact Dorothy Wakefield at dwakefield@uchc.edu.

HHS and 15 Other Federal Departments and Agencies Announce an Interim Final Rule That Delays Both the Effective Date and General Compliance Date of the Revisions to the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects to July 19, 2018

From the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP):

January 17, 2018

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and 15 other federal departments and agencies have announced an Interim Final Rule (IFR) that delays by six months the effective date and general compliance date of the revisions to the “Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects” (also known as the Common Rule) originally published in the Federal Register on January 19, 2017 (82 FR 7149). Most provisions in the revised Common Rule were scheduled to go into effect on January 19, 2018.

The IFR delays the effective date and general compliance date to July 19, 2018, providing regulated entities additional time to prepare to implement these revisions.

The IFR has been put on public display by the Office of the Federal Register and can be accessed at: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/01/22/2018-00997/federal-policy-for-the-protection-of-human-subjects-delay-of-the-revisions-to-the-federal-policy-for.

Until July 19, 2018, regulated entities will be required to comply with the pre-2018 Common Rule as published in the 2016 edition of the Code of Federal Regulations (i.e., the Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects, originally published on June 18, 1991, and subsequently amended on June 23, 2005) that can be accessed at: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2016-title45-vol1/pdf/CFR-2016-title45-vol1-part46.pdf – PDF
An example of a revised provision that does not conflict with the pre-2018 rule is one that addresses new elements of informed consent (revised rule at §__.116(b)(9), (c)(7)-(9)). It is permissible to incorporate these new elements of consent now because the pre-2018 rule does not prohibit including these elements in informed consent.

An example of a revised provision that conflicts with the pre-2018 rule, and thus could not be implemented prior to July 19, 2018, is the provision eliminating the requirement for continuing review in certain circumstances (as described in the revised rule at §__.109(f)). Because the pre-2018 regulations require continuing review at least annually for all ongoing non-exempt human subjects research, halting continuing review for such research before that date would be considered non-compliance.

The IFR does not delay the compliance date for the cooperative research provision of the revised Common Rule (found at §__114(b)), which remains January 20, 2020.

Federal departments and agencies listed in the IFR are also in the process of developing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) seeking public comment on a proposal for further delay in the required implementation of the revised Common Rule (for example, until January 21, 2019). If such an NPRM is published, after consideration of the public comments, the federal departments and agencies will determine whether a final rule to further delay the revised Common Rule will be issued.

Original Article

Biodegradable Sensor Monitors Pressure in the Body then Disappears

Uconn Today has a new article highlighting the development of a biodegradable pressure sensor that could help doctors monitor chronic lung disease, swelling of the brain, and other medical conditions before dissolving harmlessly in a patient’s body. CICATS is pleased that three of our staff, Dr. Cato Laurencin, Dr. Chia-Ling Kuo and Dr. Kevin Wai Hong Lo, are among of the authors of the corresponding research paper. Additionally, Dr. Thanh Duc Nguyen, the paper’s senior author, is a member of CICATS Biomedical Engineering Core Interest Group.

“We are very excited because this is the first time these biocompatible materials have been used in this way. Medical sensors are often implanted directly into soft tissues and organs,” said Dr. Nguyen. “Taking them out can cause additional damage. We knew that if we could develop a sensor that didn’t require surgery to take it out, that would be really significant.”

To read the full article click here.

CICATS CEO Receives Prestigious New Appointment

Dr. Cato Laurencin, CICATS CEO, has been appointed to the new Scientific Advisory Board of The Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine. The panel will provide evaluation and guidance for the institute’s work, which began in July 2016 with a mission of working in the area of diagnosis, treatment and clinical care for newborns and children with rare, life-threatening diseases. The institute provides diagnoses through rapid whole genome sequencing, according to Rady.

Dr. Laurencin will be joined by:

  • Dr. James R. Downing, president and chief executive of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He is an expert in molecular diagnostics and a pediatric cancer researcher.
  • Elizabeth Blackburn, president of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. She won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for discovering the molecular nature of telomeres, the ends of chromosomes that serve as protective caps essential for preserving genetic information, and for co-discovering telomerase, an enzyme that maintains telomere ends.
  • George Church, a professor at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University. He helped found projects that serve as the world’s only open-access personal precision medicine data. His innovations in synthetic biology have been the basis for launching several companies.
  • Dr. Thomas R. Insel, former director of the National Institute of Mental Health and current president of Mindstrong Health. He is a neuroscientist and psychiatrist.
  • Dr. Isaac Kohane, professor and chairman of the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School.

“Each of these brilliant scientists is an authority in their respective field,” said Dr. Stephen Kingsmore, president and chief executive of the institute. “By sharing their expertise and leadership with us, they will play a vital role in helping to calibrate our goals and oversee our progress in advancing pediatric genomic medicine.”

The information provided above can be found in the Times of San Diego.

Science Café on Youth Substance Abuse & Depression: A KAVLI Brain Event (2/20/2018)

Please note: pre-registration is required for this cafe.

You are invited to attend our CICATS Science Café on Youth Substance Abuse and Depression: A Kavli BRAIN Event.

Title: Youth Substance Use Disorders with Co-occurring Depression: The Nature of the Association and Implications for Treatment

Speaker: Dr. Yifrah Kaminer, Professor of Psychiatry & Pediatrics, Alcohol Research Center & Injury Prevention Center, University of Connecticut School of Medicine

Description: Join us for an informal discussion about the association between substance use disorders and co-occurring depression in youth. We will discuss treatment outcome findings, an ongoing study by the presenter, and explore potential future treatment directions. Questions and audience participation are highly encouraged.

Date: Tuesday, February 20th

Time: 4:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Location: Butterfly Chinese Restaurant, 831 Farmington Ave, West Hartford, CT 06119

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

Please use this link to RSVP for the event. Pre-registration is required. For questions, contact burke@uchc.edu.

Science Cafe on Medicine and Latino Culture: A Kavli BRAIN Event (1/27/2018)

You are invited to attend our CICATS Science Café on Medicine and Latino Culture: A Kavli BRAIN Event. This event is a collaboration with the Latino Medical Student Association.

Title: Medicine and Latino Culture: Understanding and Addressing Latino Health Issues

Description: Join us for an informal discussion on the role of nutrition and genetics on the risk for diabetes and heart disease in the Latino community.

Speaker: Dr. Annabelle Rodriguez Oquendo, Linda and David Roth Chair of Cardiovascular Research, UConn Health

Date: Saturday, January 27th

Time: 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Location: Costa del Sol, 901 Wethersfield Ave., Hartford, CT 06114 (parking is available at the restaurant and across the street in a gated parking lot)

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

For questions, contact cvalentin@uchc.edu.

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.

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-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.