Month: February 2017

Professor Cato T. Laurencin to Receive 2016 Connecticut Medal of Technology

By: SoE News (

Dr. Cato T. Laurencin has been named the 2016 recipient of the Connecticut Medal of Technology (Photo: Sarah Turker/UConn Health).

Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, a world-renowned physician-scientist in orthopaedic surgery, engineering, and materials science, has been named the 2016 recipient of the Connecticut Medal of Technology. Laurencin, of the University of Connecticut will accept the award at the 41st Annual Meeting & Dinner of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE) on May 24.

Laurencin, a CASE member since 2009, is a pioneer who has developed technologies that are revolutionary and that are in use in important applications in the marketplace. He has exhibited leadership and courage in the development of new initiatives for science and entrepreneurship.

Laurencin is a University Professor at UConn. He is the 8th University Professor in the school’s history. This rare title is awarded to individuals for extraordinary academic excellence, and sustained, high-level achievements in administration at the school and is UConn’s highest faculty distinction. He currently is chief executive officer of the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science, where he leads the university’s translational science research infrastructure. He is the founding director of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering and the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical, Biological, Physical, and Engineering Sciences at UConn Health. In addition, he is a professor across the university, as well as a board certified orthopaedic surgeon, endowed professor of orthopaedic surgery, and fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Biomedical Engineering Society, the Materials Research Society, and the American Chemical Society.

Laurencin has achieved not only a breadth of experience across multiple fields, but also a depth of accomplishments that places him at the highest echelon of each area in which he has been involved.

He is the scientific founder of Soft Tissue Regeneration (STR), a Connecticut company. STR is commercializing breakthrough technologies for anterior cruciate ligament regeneration (knee) and rotator cuff regeneration (shoulder). The shoulder rotator cuff regeneration device has been cleared for use by the FDA, and the anterior cruciate ligament device is now in clinical trials in Europe. In addition to STR, Laurencin is scientific co-founder of Natural Polymer Devices (NPD). NPD is a Connecticut company that focuses on developing polysaccharide polymer technologies for bone regeneration. The company is in the process of seeking FDA clearance of a novel fracture repair device for the treatment of cervical spine fractures.

Laurencin was named one of the 100 Engineers of the Modern Era by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers at their Centennial Celebration in 2009. He was named for his seminal work in the development of polymerceramic systems for bone repair. In seminal papers and patents, he described the development of composite matrix systems that could foster bone healing. That research, which has continued to this day, has been the inspiration for the biocomposite interference screw, a principal means of fixation bone. Laurencin’s work in the development of sintered polymer microspheres for bone repair has inspired products now on the market. His research has also focused on the development of degradable polymers for drug delivery applications based on the polyanhydrides. Work in that area resulted in the development of products for bone infection treatment and brain tumor treatment.

Laurencin has shown leadership nationally and in Connecticut in the fostering of new technology. He served as a permanent member of the orthopaedic device panel for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Later he was appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to the National Science Advisory Board (Science Board) of the FDA, the overseeing body of that agency. There he helped revamp the FDA and its mission of providing scientifically based decisions on the approval of devices, drugs, and biologics.

In Connecticut, Laurencin has performed distinguished service of the highest order. He was the faculty leader in the development of the state’s Bioscience Connecticut Initiative. This initiative calls for doubling incubator space for new companies at UConn, while otherwise fostering a collaborative environment that encourages inventorship and innovation. Much of the success in the passage of Bioscience Connecticut, especially in educating individuals on the benefits of the initiative, has been attributed to Laurencin.

“The State of Connecticut is proud to award the Connecticut Medal of Technology to Dr. Cato T. Laurencin for his internationally recognized work developing revolutionary technologies using his combined background in medicine and engineering,” said Governor Dannel P. Malloy. “In addition, we honor Dr. Laurencin’s success both as an inventor and as someone who creates environments that allow innovation to grow.”

Laurencin is recognized regionally, nationally and internationally for his work in developing new technologies. In Connecticut, Laurencin was named the 2014 CURE Connecticut Academic Entrepreneur of the Year. He received the Technology Innovation and Development Award from the Society for Biomaterials, their highest award for inventorship, and in 2013 was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors.

Laurencin is an elected member of both the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Engineering, the first orthopaedic surgeon in history to achieve dual election. Internationally, he is a fellow of the Indian National Academy of Sciences, a foreign fellow of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, an associate fellow of the African Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of The World Academy of Sciences. He was named a recipient of the National Medal of Technology & Innovation in December 2015.

Published: April 15, 2016

Remembering Dr. Michael Howard

By: SoE News (


Dr. G. Michael Howard, 81, professor emeritus of chemical engineering and beloved husband for 57 years of Jane Deans Howard, passed away on December 21, 2016. Professor Howard served as associate dean for UConn Engineering, as well as department head of chemical engineering during his 36 year tenure as a full time professor.  Born in Washington, DC on July 4, 1935, he graduated from the University of Rochester in 1957. He subsequently earned his master’s degree from Yale before coming to UConn to receive his Ph.D.

In 1961 he began his 50 year affiliation with the chemical engineering department at UConn, which is now called the chemical and biomolecular engineering department. Throughout Dr. Howard’s time at UConn he was a favorite of his students and well-respected by his peers. He received numerous teaching honors and awards, including the Outstanding Teacher Award from the Student Government, two-time winner of the Rogers Corp. Outstanding Teacher Award in Chemical Engineering, induction into the UConn School of Engineering Academy of Distinguished Engineers, and the Mike Howard Educational Excellence Fund in Chemical Engineering was established by his peers and former students upon his retirement.

Nationally, Dr. Howard chaired the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) National Program Committee on Education and the Liaison Committee between AIChE and the ASEE Chemical Engineering Division.

While at the University of Rochester, Mike was a crafty undersized center on the basketball team and was coached by Louis Alexander, a former UConn player and coach. Mike was also the captain and number one player on the tennis team. For more than 30 years he was a regular at the lunchtime pick-up basketball games in Guyer Gym on the UConn campus. Mike was a devoted UConn sports fan, particularly of the men’s and women’s basketball and soccer teams, and the football team. He enjoyed serving UConn through various positions on athletic advisory committees.

In 2011 Mike was honored with induction into the Hastings High School Hall of Excellence for his contributions to higher education. Two Nobel Prize winners are in the same Hall of Excellence, and in his induction speech, Mike proudly and humbly shared his belief that if you couldn’t win a Nobel Prize yourself, you could still make a wonderful contribution by striving to lay the groundwork for someone else to win one.

Mike was committed to his family and students, making sure that all knew through his support and generosity that he was there to help them reach their highest potential. He was a lover of crossword and number puzzles of all kinds, had endless knowledge of many subjects, loved trivia games and quizzes, and was known to enjoy a good pun.

Mike is survived by Jane, and his three children, Russell Howard and his wife Christina of Williamstown, MA, James Howard and his wife Kateri of Glastonbury, CT, and Ann Howard Phillips and her husband Todd of Wexford, PA. He also leaves his sister, Helen Howard Harmon of San Francisco, CA, brother and sister-in-law William and Nancy Deans of Acton, ME, eight cherished grandchildren, two nieces and one nephew. His family will deeply miss his wisdom, sense of humor, wit and generosity, particularly at the family gatherings on Candlewood Lake.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Mike Howard Educational Excellence Fund by contributing to the UConn Foundation, Inc. 2390 Alumni Drive Unit 3206, Storrs Ct 06269, and referencing the Mike Howard Educational Excellence Fund #22084.

Published: January 12, 2017