Cato T. Laurencin, MD,PhD, the University Professor and Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Connecticut (UConn), has been chosen to receive the 2021 Hoover Medal. The prize celebrates the civic and humanitarian achievements of an engineer whose professional and personal endeavors have advanced the well-being of humankind.
Laurencin, a Fellow and Director of AIChE, will receive the Hoover Medal and deliver a related lecture during the 2021 AIChE Annual Meeting, to be held Nov. 7–11 in Boston, MA, and online Nov. 15–19. (In addition to the November 2021 Annual Meeting Hoover Medal session and lecture honoring Laurencin, the meeting will feature a separate session and lecture honoring the 2020 Hoover medalist, William Hammack, the Lycan Professor of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering at the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.)
About the Hoover Medal
Established in 1929, the Hoover Medal is administered by a board representing five engineering organizations: AIChE, 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).
Laurencin is internationally renowned for his work in biomaterials, stem cell science, nanotechnology, drug delivery systems, and for pioneering a new field, regenerative engineering. He is Professor of Chemical Engineering, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at UConn. He also serves as the Chief Executive Officer of The Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering and as Director of UConn’s Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical, Biological, Physical and Engineering Sciences. Laurencin is also the founder of AIChE’s Regenerative Engineering Society.
A commitment to social justice
Outside his role as an engineer and physician, Laurencin has dedicated his life to the promotion of racial and ethnic social justice and equity. Pertinent to the Hoover Medal recognition, Laurencin is being lauded for mentoring a generation of individuals who continue to pass on his lessons. The American Association for the Advancement of Science awarded him the AAAS Mentor Award for his pivotal role in developing underrepresented engineers in the U.S. Laurencin is the first person to receive all three of the principal national honors for mentoring: the AAAS Mentor Award; the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Math and Engineering Mentoring; and the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award for Mentoring. The Society for Biomaterials created the Cato T. Laurencin Travel Fellowship Award, which supports underrepresented students pursuing biomaterials science and engineering.
Laurencin has also worked at the policy level to foster diversity. He is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, the leading journal on the subject. Laurencin founded and chairs the National Academies Roundtable on Black Men and Black Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine, aimed at addressing issues at a system level. His work has been recognized across engineering communities. He received AIChE’s William Grimes Award and the Biomedical Engineering Society’s Diversity Award. The National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) awarded him its highest honor, the Percy Julian Medal.
Accomplishments and background
Laurencin is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering, an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, and an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is the first individual to receive both of the oldest and highest awards presented by the National Academy of Engineering (the Simon Ramo Founder’s Award) and the National Academy of Medicine (the Walsh McDermott Medal).
Internationally, he is an elected Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences, the India National Academy of Sciences, the Indian National Academy of Engineering, and the World Academy of Sciences. Laurencin is also an Academician and the 45th Foreign Member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. An International Fellow in Biomaterials Science and Engineering, he received the Founders Award from the Society for Biomaterials, and the Acta Biomaterialia Gold Medal.
Laurencin earned his BS in chemical engineering from Princeton University; his MD, magna cum laude, from the Harvard Medical School; and his PhD in biochemical engineering/biotechnology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2016, Laurencin received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Barack Obama in ceremonies at the White House. It is the highest honor bestowed in America for technological achievement. In 2021, he was awarded the Spingarn Medal, the highest honor of the NAACP for his work in regenerative engineering.