Aug. 29-Sept. 12, 2003
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IN THIS ISSUE
U.S. News ranks U.Va. No. 1 public
William Pease to lead U.Va.’s marching band
Headlines @ U.Va.
For Dom Starsia, the summer of his content

ACC looks beyond athletics with Traveling Scholars Program

‘A great ride’ comes to a smooth landing
Reynolds puts love of numbers to work for University
New orthopaedic surgery chair focuses on today’s broken bones, tomorrow’s new legs
Breast Care Center offers high-tech health, warm environment
Appalachian clinic draws record crowd
Positive spin keeps wheels turning at Parking & Transportation
Bus schedule, escort changes enhance safety
Visa problems take toll on international students
Summer session office losing longtime leader
From bugs to satellites: A symposium on the limits of landscape
McCormick Observatory offers ‘Mars Mania’
All moved in
Pluses and minuses fill balance sheet of Luckson Hove’s life
Transfer students get early start at building community
New orthopaedic surgery chair focuses on today’s broken bones, tomorrow’s new legs
Dr. Cato Laurencin envisions new generation of ‘orthobiologics’

Dr. Cato Laurencin By Elizabeth Kiem

Dr. Cato Laurencin always knew he would pursue a career in medicine. He assumed he would serve a community, tend to patients in a family practice and make house calls — like his mother did for 50 years.

But sometime during his studies at Harvard Medical School, he developed a keen interest in orthopaedic surgery— especially working with athletes — and the house calls became field calls, ring calls and dugout calls.

“An area in which one works with high-performance athletes and treats athletic injuries just seemed exciting and fun,” he said.

He doctored the New York Mets in 1993, a season in which the team suffered a plethora of musculoskeletal injuries. In short, said Laurencin, “a good year to help the Mets as a sports doctor.”

Laurencin’s new duties as chairman of U.Va.’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and his ambitious research in tissue engineering are now combined with his clinical interests in sports medicine these days.

His research team is working on ways to re-grow limbs or parts of limbs through new technologies — using “smart grafts” and organic scaffolding to enable artificial bone and organ growth and new materials for synthetic transplants. He hopes to see a new generation of “orthobiologics” revolutionizing the field in the next five to 10 years.

“I think I found a niche between what I do in the operating room and what I do in the laboratories,” he said.

As department chairman, one of his immediate priorities is to enhance the faculty with new appointments in areas such as sports medicine, trauma and spinal injuries. In his new role as executive director of U.Va.’s Athletic Health Services, Laurencin is working to organize physician treatment of athletes involved in Cavalier sports programs. In this regard, he said he has been fortunate to receive advice from Dr. Frank McCue, who recently retired as team physician for U.Va. athletics.

“He’s one of the great legends of sports medicine … and in my transition he’s been extremely helpful to me,” Laurencin said.

Visit U.Va.’s orthopaedic surgery department Web site to learn more about its mission, research and services.

Laurencin’s appointment began last February, when he left a vice chairmanship in orthopaedic surgery at Drexel University to succeed Dr. Gwo-Jaw Wang, becoming the U.Va. department’s sixth permanent chair since its founding in 1932. In addition to his expertise and credentials, Laurencin brought to the University 22 faculty, fellows, students and associated staff. The Laurencin team was completed in mid-July with the arrival of his wife, Cynthia, and three children.

Dr. Arthur “Tim” Garson, vice president and dean of the Medical School, said it was “very gratifying that his students chose to follow [Laurencin],” adding that they would be a great addition to the “critical mass of investigators who really worry about how tissues grow.”

Laurencin’s program in tissue engineering is already internationally renowned, said Garson, and is an excellent fit with many of the University’s existing research groups, particularly those focusing on regenerative medicine and morphogenesis.
Laurencin agreed that the University’s emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration was one of the reasons he accepted the position.

“I’m particularly committed to creating new synergies between orthopaedic surgery, engineering and science. I think this institution has great potential in terms of being able to do that.”

Outside of surgery and the labs, Laurencin has shown strong leadership in community outreach. This past year he was recognized by the New Millennium Foundation for his work in the inner city Philadelphia community, particularly involving athletes.

Charlottesville, he said, reminds him of Princeton, where he majored in chemical engineering in 1980. He recognized a potential for community service here as well.
“I’ve already begun to be involved in outreach activities here. I have been involved in a number of U.Va.’s summer program initiatives. It’s always been an important part of my life. I don’t really see that changing.”


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