Laurencin is one of just 25 individuals and the only surgeon to be elected to all three National Academies. Election to the National Academy of Science, National Academy of Engineering, or National Academy of Medicine is considered one of the greatest professional honors in science, engineering, or medicine and health.
“This is the most iconic award of the NAACP,” says Laurencin, who serves as the University Professor and Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Professor of Chemical Engineering, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at UConn.
“I am so blessed and honored to receive this amazing recognition, and join the historic ranks of my fellow Spingarn Medal honorees that began its legacy 106 years ago,” says Laurencin, also of UConn School of Medicine.
Said the NAACP of Dr. Laurencin: “The award recognizes Dr. Laurencin’s seminal and singular accomplishments in tissue regeneration, biomaterials science, nanotechnology, and regenerative engineering, a field he founded. His exceptional career has made him the foremost engineer-physician-scientist in the world. His breakthrough achievements have resulted in transformative advances in improving human life. His fundamental contributions to materials science and engineering include introducing nanotechnology into the biomaterials field for regeneration.”
The medal is presented for the “highest or noblest achievement by a living African American during the preceding year or years in any honorable field.” The award recognizes Laurencin’s seminal and singular accomplishments in tissue regeneration, biomaterials science, and nanotechnology, and regenerative engineering, a field he founded, have made him the foremost engineer-physician-scientist in the world. His breakthrough achievements have resulted in transformative advances in improving human life. His fundamental contributions to materials science and engineering include the introduction of nanotechnology into the biomaterials field for regeneration.
Named after the late J.E. Spingarn–then NAACP Chairman of the Board of Directors– this gold medal, awarded annually since 1915, honors “the man or woman of African descent and American citizenship who shall have made the highest achievement during the preceding year or years in any honorable field.” The award is intended both to draw the attention of the general public to African American achievement and to inspire young African Americans.
“Dr. Laurencin’s contribution to furthering humanity’s collective achievement in the field of science and engineering is extraordinary,” says Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, NAACP. “As a pioneer of the new field, regenerative engineering, he is shaping the landscape of cell-based therapy, gene therapy, and immunomodulation.”
He is the first person in history to receive the oldest/highest award of the National Academy of Medicine (the Walsh McDermott Medal) and the oldest/highest award of the National Academy of Engineering (the Simon Ramo Founder’s Award). In science, he received the Philip Hauge Abelson Prize given “for signal contributions to the advancement of science in the United States.” In technology and inventorship, Laurencin is a laureate of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, America’s highest honor for technological achievement, awarded by President Barack Obama at the White House.
Laurencin received his BSE in chemical engineering from Princeton University, his MD, magna cum laude from the Harvard Medical School, and his Ph.D. in biochemical engineering/biotechnology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the CEO of The Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering.
A devoted mentor and champion of early career and underrepresented minority scientists, Laurencin has also served on more than 20 National Academies committees and currently chairs the National Academies Roundtable on Black Men and Black Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine.
As the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, the NAACP remains a fixture in fighting for civil rights and social justice for all. Through its annual awards, it highlights the achievements of trailblazers who are actively on the front lines driving progress in business, law, education, and other sectors. In honoring their work and commitment, the NAACP aims to further the legacy of its organization, while championing future generations of civil rights leaders.
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