As reported by the Charlottesville Daily Progress, May 9, 2008.

Laurencin Leaving UVa for UConn

By Bryan McKenzie

One of the University of Virginia’s most prominent medical and engineering researchers is leaving UVa to take a senior post at the University of Connecticut.

Dr. Cato Laurencin, chairman of the UVa Medical Center’s orthopaedic surgery department and a university professor of both chemical engineering and biomedical engineering, will begin his new job Aug. 11.

At UConn, Laurencin will lead that university’s medical center as vice president for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.

“I’m leaving one great institution and going to another great institution,” Laurencin said Friday.

During his five years at UVa, Laurencin’s research into biomaterials, tissue engineering and nanotechnology has garnered international headlines.

Earlier this year, he was named to Scientific Magazine’s list of 50 researchers who have made promising research breakthroughs.

His research into tissue regeneration caught the magazine’s attention. Over the past 20 years, he has studied how to recreate muscles, ligaments and bones.

Laurencin and his team recently created a woven synthetic anterior cruciate ligament — commonly known as an ACL — and implanted it into rabbits. After 12 weeks, many of the rabbits saw new growth in their ligaments.

Down the road, Laurencin’s research could be applied to humans. ACL injuries are common among athletes. An estimated 200,000 Americans rupture an ACL each year.

“Cato Laurencin is the classic physician scientist; he has taken real-world issues such as knee injury to the laboratory and begun to develop new ways to solving these problems,” said Dr. Tim Garson, UVa’s provost. “He has taught many of us how to approach these problems and the university will have been better for his presence.”

Laurencin will take several professors and graduate students with him to UConn, he said, though he added that it is too early to talk about specifics.

Though he “loved being at UVa,” Laurencin said the chance to run a medical center was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

“The University of Connecticut position is, simply put, an exciting opportunity,” he said.

With the departure of Laurencin, UVa will lose one of its most visible black scientists. He is profiled in the current issue of Black Enterprise magazine in an article about America’s leading physicians.

In September, Laurencin received the first Robert A. Bland Award in Engineering and Applied Science. Named for the first black person to receive an undergraduate degree from UVa, the award recognizes contributions to the field of engineering by a black faculty member or student at UVa.