Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, vice president for health affairs at the UConn Health Center, dean of the UConn School of Medicine, and an internationally prominent orthopaedic surgeon and bioengineering expert, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).
Election to the NAE is among the nation’s highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer.
Laurencin was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2004; he is among an elite group – representing approximately 7 percent of the National Academy of Engineering’s total membership – elected to two National Academies.
Laurencin is among a group of 68 new members elected to the NAE. The announcement singled out his work in biomaterials science, drug delivery, and tissue engineering involving musculoskeletal systems, and his academic leadership.
“This is a true honor for me,” Laurencin said. “I am humbled to be elected to the National Academy of Engineering and am deeply grateful to my mentors, colleagues, students, and patients who have inspired me through the years.”
Throughout his career, Laurencin has followed a dual path in orthopaedic surgery and engineering. Through his research endeavors, he has pioneered advances in tissue and regenerative engineering, and focused on applications to help patients regain mobility and strength. His research involves tissue engineering, biomaterials science, drug delivery systems, nanotechnology and stem cell science. At UConn, he is a Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Chemical, Biomolecular, and Materials Engineering, as well as a Professor of Biomedical Engineering.
Clinically, Laurencin is a Fellow of the American Surgical Association, the American College of Surgeons, and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and has been recognized by America’s Top Doctors, America’s Top Surgeons, and Black Enterprise Magazine in its Leading Doctors Edition. He has won the prestigious Nicholas Andry Award from the Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons.
In research, Laurencin was honored by Scientific American Magazine as one of the top 50 innovators for his groundbreaking technological work in the regeneration of knee tissue. He was also named one of the “100 Chemical Engineers of the Modern Era” by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers at its Centennial Celebration, and is the 2009 winner of the Pierre Galletti Award, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering’s highest honor.
Laurencin’s career has had a heavy emphasis on mentoring. He received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Math, and Engineering Mentoring in ceremonies at the White House last year.
In 2008, Laurencin joined the UConn Health Center from the University of Virginia where he was the Lillian T. Pratt Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, and the Orthopaedic Surgeon-in-Chief at the University of Virginia Health System. In addition, he was designated a University Professor by the president of the University of Virginia, and held professorships in biomedical engineering and chemical engineering at the school.
Before that, Laurencin served as the Helen I. Moorehead Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at Drexel University, and was Clinical Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery.
Laurencin earned his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University and his medical degree from Harvard Medical School, where he was a magna cum laude graduate and the recipient of the Robinson Award for Excellence in Surgery. During medical school, he also earned his Ph.D. in biochemical engineering/biotechnology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was a Hugh Hampton Young Scholar.
Upon completing both of his doctoral degrees, Laurencin joined the Harvard University Orthopaedic Surgery program, ultimately becoming the chief orthopaedic surgery resident at the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. He also completed a fellowship in sports medicine and shoulder surgery at Cornell University Medical Center, at the Hospital for Special Surgery.
Among his national leadership responsibilities, Laurencin has served as Speaker of the House of the National Medical Association, and currently serves as chair of the Board of the National Medical Association’s W. Montague Cobb Health Institute. He has been a member of the National Institutes of Health National Advisory Council for Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, and Skin Diseases; the National Science Advisory Board for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and the National Science Foundation’s Engineering Directorate Advisory Committee.