UConn Health Awards and Honors

Dr. Ion Moraru, professor in the Department of Cell Biology and the Center for Cell Analysis and Modeling at UConn Health (Lanny Nagler for UConn Health).
Dr. Ion Moraru, professor in the Department of Cell Biology and the Center for Cell Analysis and Modeling at UConn Health (Lanny Nagler for UConn Health).

Read the latest ways the excellence of UConn Health, UConn School of Medicine, and UConn School of Dental Medicine physicians are being recognized around the nation and world.

Ion Moraru, M.D. P.hD., of UConn Health is now a principal investigator for a new multi-institutional Center for Reproducible Biomedical Modeling just established with a 5-year, $6.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Moraru will be collaborating with the new Center’s Director Dr. Herbert Sauro at the University of Washington and other project leads including Dr. Jonathan Karr at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Dr. John Gennari at the University of Washington, and Dr. David Nickerson at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute.

The Center will work to develop new tools and infrastructure needed to accelerate the development of predictive models of biological systems that can guide precision medicine and bioengineering. Currently there are limitations to building predictive models of biological systems that are comprehensible, reusable, and reproducible. The new Center will develop technologies for systematically and collaboratively aggregating data, and develop tools for designing, simulating, analyzing, and publishing models, as well as analyzing simulation results. Moraru and his team at UConn Health will develop a novel simulation framework that supports a wide range of algorithms and existing simulation software, new approaches to relate conceptual models to simulations results and visual diagrams, and web-based interactive tools for exploring models and their simulation results.

Moraru, professor in the Department of Cell Biology and the Center for Cell Analysis and Modeling at UConn Health, shared: “In silico experiments involving ever larger and more complex models most often require as much time and effort to reproduce as do wet-lab experiments.  We hope to change all of this.”


Rajesh V. Lalla, D.D.S., Ph.D., associate professor of the Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Diagnostic Sciences and associate dean for research at UConn School of Dental Medicine is the new president of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC). This June Lalla took office for his 2018-2020 term as MASCC’s new president at the MASCC/ISOO Annual Meeting in Vienna, Austria. MASCC is an international professional organization of over 1,000 healthcare professionals from over 60 countries. Its mission is to promote supportive care for people with cancer.

“I am especially honored to be the first nonphysician to serve in this role in the 25 plus year history of MASCC,” shared Lalla who has served on MASCC’s Board of Directors since 2012, its Executive Committee as MASCC treasurer and, most recently, president-elect. “I think this speaks volumes about the truly multidisciplinary nature of our society and the respect we give to all health professionals who contribute to the supportive care of patients with cancer.”

At UConn Health Lalla is actively involved in clinical care, teaching oral medicine and evidence-based decision making, and his research focuses on oral complications of cancer therapy. Recent research activities include an NIH-funded multicenter study on oral complications after chemo-radiation for head and neck cancer, as well as studies testing interventions for oral mucositis. He has received research grants from the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society, the Donaghue Foundation, and industry, and has published more than 85 peer-reviewed scientific articles or book chapters, many of which deal with oral complications in cancer patients.


Marja M. Hurley, M.D., has been selected as a Fellow of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) Advisory Committee.

The Fellow of the ASBMR program serves to recognize long-term ASBMR members who have made outstanding contributions to the field of bone and mineral science. Hurley will be honored at the ASBMR Annual Meeting Sept. 29 – Oct. 1 in Montreal, CA.

Hurley serves as professor of medicine and orthopaedics at UConn School of Medicine and Dental Medicine. In addition, she is associate dean of the Health Career Opportunity Programs (HCOP) and founding director of the Aetna Health Professions Partnership Initiative at UConn Health.


Cato T. Laurencin, M.D. Ph.D., of UConn Health and the University of Connecticut has been selected by The American Ceramic Society as a distinguished scientist and engineer to present the Edward Orton, Jr. Memorial Lecture at the 14th annual Materials Science and Technology “MS&T18” meeting October 14‐18 in Columbus, Ohio.

The invited ACerS Orton Lecture honors Laurencin as one of the pioneering giants in ceramics and related fields. Laurencin is being honored for his abundant knowledge and experience of research in biomaterials, nanotechnology, drug delivery systems, and regenerative engineering.

Laurencin serves UConn as University Professor, and director of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering, the Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Chair Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, and CEO of the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS) at UConn Health.