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Fri, October 04, 2019
On Sunday, Oct. 6, during its 2019 annual meeting, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) will present two awards for extraordinary impact on the engineering profession. The Simon Ramo Founders Award will be presented to Cato Thomas Laurencin for his research contributions and leadership in engineering. The Arthur M. Bueche Award will be given to Roderic Ivan Pettigrew for his contributions to technology research, policy, and national and international cooperation.
Cato T. Laurencin is known worldwide as a leader in biomaterials, nanotechnology, stem cell science, drug delivery systems, and a field he has pioneered, regenerative engineering. Laurencin is being recognized with the Simon Ramo Founders Award “for fundamental, critical, and groundbreaking scientific advances in the engineering of tissues, guiding technology and science policy, and promoting diversity and excellence in science.” The award acknowledges outstanding professional, educational, and personal achievements to the benefit of society and includes a commemorative medal.
At the University of Connecticut, Laurencin is the University Professor, the eighth to be designated by the school in its over 135 year history. He is professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, materials science and engineering, and biomedical engineering; the Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery; and chief executive officer of the Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering. He has produced seminal studies in a number of areas of engineering and science. He and his colleagues were the first to develop nanofiber technologies for tissue regeneration, and his group pioneered the development and understanding of polymer-ceramic systems for bone regeneration. The American Institute of Chemical Engineers cited this achievement when naming him one of the 100 Chemical Engineers of the Modern Era. In 2014, Laurencin was selected for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest honor bestowed in America for technological achievement, presented by the president of the United States, “for seminal work in the engineering of musculoskeletal tissues, especially for revolutionary achievements in the design of bone matrices and ligament regeneration.”
He has received the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s Pioneer Award and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation Grant Award for his field of regenerative engineering. He is the recipient of the Philip Hauge Abelson Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science “for signal contributions to the advancement of science in the United States.” He has served in leadership positions at NIH, NSF, and the FDA.
Laurencin is an elected member of the NAE, National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Internationally, he is an elected fellow of the African Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Sciences of India, Indian National Academy of Engineering, and the World Academy of Sciences, as well as an academician and elected member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
Roderic Ivan Pettigrew is CEO of Engineering Health (EnHealth) and executive dean for Engineering Medicine (EnMed) at Texas A&M and Houston Methodist Hospital. He will be presented the Arthur M. Bueche Award “for leadership at the NIH and for academic and industrial convergence research and education, resulting in innovations that have improved global health care.” The award recognizes an engineer who has shown dedication in science and technology as well as active involvement in determining U.S. science and technology policy, and includes a commemorative medal.
As CEO of EnHealth, Pettigrew leads the nation’s first comprehensive educational and research program to fully integrate engineering into all health-related disciplines. EnMed, the first constituent program, is a partnership of the Colleges of Engineering and Medicine at Texas A&M University and Houston Methodist Hospital, located in Houston’s Texas Medical Center. EnMed was created to develop a new type of invention-minded doctor or “Physicianeer.” Students earn both an MD and MEngineering in four years through a unique blended curriculum. Graduates are required to invent a solution to a health care problem.
Previously, as founding director of the U.S. National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) of the NIH (2002–2017), Pettigrew oversaw $5 billion in research investments and is credited with building it into the signature NIH institute for emerging medical technologies. Under his leadership, NIBIB produced more patents per appropriated dollar than any other institute or federal agency, returning $30 per $1 invested in research or 3,000%. On the 10th anniversary of NIBIB, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution commending the institute for its leadership and impact in improving the nation’s health through technological innovation. Before his NIH appointment, he was a professor of radiology at Emory University School of Medicine, professor of bioengineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and director of the Emory Center for Magnetic Resonance Research at the Emory University.
Pettigrew’s expertise is in health technologies emerging from the convergence of the life sciences, physical sciences, and engineering. He is known internationally for his pioneering work involving four-dimensional imaging of the cardiovascular system using magnetic resonance imaging. His accomplishments have been recognized by election to the NAE, National Academy of Medicine, National Academy of Inventors, and the Indian National Academy of Sciences, as a foreign member. Other honors include the Bennie Award for Achievement from Morehouse College, Most Distinguished Alumnus Award of the University of Miami, Pierre Galletti Award of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, the inaugural Gold Medal of the Academy of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging Research, Distinguished Service Award of the National Medical Association, UM Miller Medical School Hall of Fame, Pritzker Achievement Award of the Biomedical Engineering Society, Distinguished Service Medal of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, Spirit of the Heart Award of the Association of Black Cardiologists, and Gold Medal of the Radiological Society of North America.
The mission of the NAE is to advance the well-being of the nation by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and by marshaling the expertise and insights of eminent engineers to provide independent advice to the federal government on matters involving engineering and technology. The NAE is part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, an independent, nonprofit organization chartered by Congress to provide objective analysis and advice to the nation on matters of science, technology, and health.