The UConn Health Center will have new leadership as it moves ahead with a just-approved $864 million expansion and renovation plan. School of Medicine Dean Dr. Cato Laurencin is stepping down July 1, UConn President Susan Herbst announced Thursday.

“While many people worked hard over many years to secure a healthy future for the UConn Health Center, no one toiled as tirelessly toward this goal as Dr. Cato T. Laurencin,” Herbst wrote in an email to faculty, staff, students, alumni and others. “With this major legislative achievement secured, Dr. Laurencin has made a decision to recast his energies entirely toward leading translational research initiatives, conducting research, mentoring and providing clinical care.”

Cato Laurencin

Laurencin speaks at the announcement of the $864 million Bioscience Connecticut plan last month

Laurencin, who is also stepping down as the university’s vice president for health affairs, will become CEO of the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science, a partnership between UConn, regional hospitals and community organizations. He will also serve as director of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering. Laurencin, an orthopaedic surgeon, has a PhD in biochemical engineering and biotechnology and holds a number of patents.

Herbst, who became president Wednesday, said the university will name an interim vice president shortly and that a national search will be conducted to find Laurencin’s successor.

In an email to be sent to the university community later today, Laurencin praised the plan to expand and renovate the health center, called Bioscience Connecticut, and thanked those who had worked with him in his three years at the health center.

“Assuring the long term future for the Health Center was my number-one goal in coming to UCONN and I’m excited it has been accomplished,” he wrote, citing positive financial margins at the health center in the past two years, record-setting grant awards and philanthropy.

Laurencin said the center for clinical and translational science “has the potential of uniting the region as a force in the development of bioscience.” The other institute he will direct recently received major funding to develop ways to regenerate large tissues, such as limbs–a goal he and his team has worked toward for years, he wrote.

Laurencin wrote that he will also continue to treat shoulder and knee injuries and remain involved in medical education.

Arielle Levin Becker covered health care for The Connecticut Mirror. She previously worked for The Hartford Courant, most recently as its health reporter, and has also covered small towns, courts and education in Connecticut and New Jersey. She was a finalist in 2009 for the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists, a recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship and the third-place winner in 2013 for an in-depth piece on caregivers from the National Association of Health Journalists. She is a 2004 graduate of Yale University.

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