Dr. Cato T. Laurencin Awarded by the American Chemical Society Receiving the 2023 Priestley Medal

The Priestley Medal is the highest honor of the American Chemical Society.

Dr. Cato T. Laurencin of UConn accepting the 2023 Priestley Medal (Photo credit: EPNAC.com).

Dr. Laurencin
Dr. Cato Laurencin on the cover of Chemical & Engineering News Magazine (Image Credit: American Chemical Society).

On March 28 Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, the University Professor and Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor at the University of Connecticut, received the 2023 Priestley Medal. This is the highest honor of the American Chemical Society. He was honored “for pioneering, breakthrough work on polymeric materials and polymer composites for biologic use, and for leadership in inclusion, diversity, equity, anti-racism and learning (IDEAL).”

In chemistry and materials science, Laurencin is a pioneer in polymeric materials chemistry, and polymeric materials science engineering for musculoskeletal systems. He produced seminal research work and discoveries in patents and papers on polymeric nanofiber technology, ushering in the field of polymeric nanomaterials for tissue regeneration. His work in published papers and patents focusing on polymer-ceramic systems inspired the development of biocomposite materials including interference screws for which he was named “One of the 100 Engineers of the Modern Era” by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers at their centennial celebration. Fundamental research on polymeric fiber system for soft tissue regeneration has led to a number of soft tissue regenerative systems including the Laurencin-Copper (LC) bioengineered anterior cruciate ligament, now in humans. His work on engineered materials for soft tissue regeneration was highlighted by National Geographic Magazine in its “100 Scientific Discoveries that Changed the World” edition. He has worked with industry on the development and understanding of systems combining polymeric materials and allograft human tissue, creating technologies helping patients throughout the world.

Laurencin is the pioneer of the field of Regenerative Engineering. His work encompasses,  fundamental science, applied research, and research translation to clinical applications.

The Priestley Medal (Image Credit: American Chemical Society).

Laurencin is also the editor-in-chief of the Journal Regenerative Engineering and Translational Medicine. Regenerative Engineering and Translational Medicine is an international journal covering convergence (the deep integration) of the disciplines of advanced materials science, stem cell research, the physical sciences, developmental biology, and clinical translation.  Convergence brings exciting opportunities to translate bench-top research into bedside methods, allowing the possibility of moving beyond maintaining or repairing tissues to regenerating them.

Laurencin is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Inventors.

He is the first individual to receive the highest distinctions across science, engineering, medicine, and technology for this work. In science, he received the Philip Hauge Abelson Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science awarded “for signal contributions to the advancement of science in the United States.” He was awarded both the highest/oldest honor of the National Academy of Engineering (the Simon Ramo Founders Award) and one of highest/oldest honors of the National Academy of Medicine (the Walsh McDermott Prize). And he received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, our nation’s highest for technological achievement in ceremonies at the White House.

Dr. Laurencin
UConn’s Dr. Cato Laurencin.

Laurencin has also profoundly contributed to mentoring and fostering diversity. He was honored by President Barack Obama with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Math and Engineering Mentoring. He received the 2021 Hoover Medal given jointly by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers (AIME) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The purpose of the medal is “to recognize great, unselfish, non-technical services by engineers to humanity.” Laurencin’s exceptional dedication to inclusion, equity, and fairness along with his impactful work in mentoring lead to his selection.