Cato T. Laurencin to Receive 2024 Sigma Xi Gold Key Award

July 08, 2024

Cato_T_Laurencin_1200_1500Media Contact: 
Jason Papagan
Manager of Communications
Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society 


RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society is pleased to announce that Cato T. Laurencin, MD, PhD, has been named the 2024 recipient of the Gold Key Award. As the Society's highest honor, the Gold Key Award is presented to a Sigma Xi member who has made extraordinary contributions to their profession and has fostered critical innovations to enhance the health of the research enterprise, to cultivate integrity in research, or to promote the public understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition. Dr. Laurencin will be presented the Gold Key Award on November 16, 2024, in Washington, DC, where he will serve as a keynote speaker at Sigma Xi’s annual conference, the International Forum on Research Excellence (IFoRE).

Dr. Laurencin is considered the founder of the field of regenerative engineering and one of the world’s leading experts in biomaterials science, stem cell technology, nanotechnology, and biophysics. He is the Chief Executive Officer of The Cato T. Laurencin Institute for Regenerative Engineering at the University of Connecticut, created in his honor.  He currently serves as the University Professor and Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Connecticut. He holds Professorships in Chemical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering at the school.

“Dr. Laurencin embodies excellence through his research and his leadership,” said Jamie Vernon, Sigma Xi executive director and CEO. “We are thrilled to recognize Dr. Laurencin with Sigma Xi’s highest honor for his pioneering work in regenerative engineering of musculoskeletal tissues and for his critical efforts to promote diversity in science and engineering.”

In 2016, Dr. Laurencin received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, America's highest honor for technological advancement, awarded by President Barack Obama. Other career honors include receiving the Priestley Medal (the highest honor of the American Chemical Society), the Von Hippel Award (the highest honor of the Materials Research Society), and the Philip Hauge Abelson Prize of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) given “for signal contributions to the advancement of science in the United States.” He has received the National Institutes of Health Director's Pioneer Grant Award and the National Science Foundation’s Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation Grant Award, the highest honors in innovation from those organizations, respectively. He was also awarded the 2021 Spingarn Medal from the NAACP, recognizing him as the world’s foremost engineer-physician-scientist and the year’s most notable living African American. He is the first surgeon in history elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Medicine, and the National Academy of Inventors.

Dr. Laurencin earned a BSE in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University, and his MD, Magna Cum Laude, from the Harvard Medical School, where he received the Robinson Award for Surgery. He earned his PhD in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was named a Hugh Hampton Young Fellow.

As the Gold Key Award recipient, Dr. Laurencin will deliver a keynote address at Sigma Xi’s IFoRE conference on November 16. His presentation, “Regenerative Engineering: New Frontiers in Regeneration,” will follow the presentation of the award. Interested attendees can learn more and register for the event by visiting

The symbolism of the Gold Key Award pays homage to the early days of Sigma Xi (late 1800s to early 1900s), when induction into the Society was often accompanied by the presentation of a small gold key. The key was routinely attached as a charm to a bracelet or chain that held a pocket watch, which was the style of the day, and represented pride in the science or engineering accomplishments of the holder. Previous recipients of the award include Shirley M. Tilghman, Bruce Alberts, Shirley M. Malcom, Walter E. Massey, Gordon E. Moore, and Norman R. Augustine.


More About Sigma Xi: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society is the world’s largest multidisciplinary honor society for scientists and engineers. Its mission is to enhance the health of the research enterprise, foster integrity in science and engineering, and promote the public understanding of science for the purpose of improving the human condition. Sigma Xi chapters can be found at colleges and universities, government laboratories, and industry research centers around the world. More than 200 Nobel Prize winners have been members. The Society is based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. On Twitter: @SigmaXiSociety