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Grants We Funded

Grant applicants for the 2022 cycle requested a total of over $2.9 million dollars. The PSF Study Section subcommittees of Basic & Translational Research and Clinical Research evaluated 115 grant applications on the following topics:

The PSF awarded research grants totaling almost $550,000 to support 19 plastic surgery research proposals.

ASPS/PSF leadership is committed to continuing to provide high levels of investigator-initiated research support to ensure that plastic surgeons have the needed research resources to be pioneers and innovators in advancing the practice of medicine.

Research Abstracts

Search The PSF database to have easy access to full-text grant abstracts from past PSF-funded research projects 2003 to present. All abstracts are the work of the Principal Investigators and were retrieved from their PSF grant applications. Several different filters may be applied to locate abstracts specific to a particular focus area or PSF funding mechanism.

Shaping the hand: Guidance strategies for tissue engineering

Principal Investigator
Harvey Chim MD


Case Western Reserve University

Funding Mechanism
Scientific Essay Contest

Focus Area

The field of tissue engineering has seen tremendous exponential growth in recent years. The initial concept of tissue engineering as defined by Langer and Vacanti was
"an interdisciplinary scientific field that combines the principles of life sciences and engineering toward the development of biologic substitutes that will serve to restore, maintain, or improve tissue function". This concept relied on the combined use of donorderived cells, a biodegradable scaffold and possibly a bioreactor to engineer a cellscaffold construct with potential clinical application as a tissue or organ substitute.

In the special context of hand surgery, a number of tissues are of interest for engineering components of the upper extremity. These include nerve, bone, tendon, skin, vessel, cartilage and composite tissue. While much progress has been made in the field, a number of limitations have prevented widespread clinical application of tissue engineering aside from a number of skin substitutes which have been approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) One major limitation has been the issue of donor site morbidity from cell harvest. This is a major issue whether cells are derived from end organs or from more multipotent sources such as bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells. While groups have explored the use of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) for use in musculoskeletal tissue engineering6, the use of ESCs is fraught with ethical and moral issues. An alternative cellular approach to tissue engineering would be to induce cell migration into an implanted scaffold through creation of a biomimetic environment by selective constant release of cytokines. We would term this approach "cell guidance".

The use of cells and scaffold materials to replace diseased or injured tissue, per the traditional paradigm of tissue engineering, was also found to be ineffective for purposes of nerve tissue engineering, with a consensus emerging that it will ultimately require the coordinated presentation of multiple permissive signals to be incorporated into tissue engineered biomaterial platforms for regrowth of tissues. Efforts in this area to recreate the complex neural microenvironment have been termed "axon guidance". Another problem that has emerged with translation of traditional tissue engineering techniques has been inadequate vascularization, and hence perfusion of engineered constructs. In the hand, this will potentially pose a major problem in engineering of bone and composite tissue. Inherent limitations with osseous tissue only forming on the surface of a polymeric scaffold were noted early on, and continue to limit engineering of large vascularized bone constructs10. By patterning biomimetic vascular channels in a polymer scaffold, induced vascularization of constructs would potentially allow fabrication of much larger constructs than that currently possible following the traditional tissue engineering paradigm. This approach has been termed "vascular guidance". Here, we describe recent progress in "Guidance" strategies, which aim at manipulating the microenvironment around cells and scaffolds to achieve a biomimetic milieu. These strategies offer an alternative and novel approach to overcoming limitations inherent to the traditional paradigm of tissue engineering.

Dr. Chim received his medical degree from the National University of Singapore, and subsequently obtained membership in the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Scotland. He is currently a resident in the integrated Plastic Surgery program at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. Throughout his training he has received numerous awards and recognition. His research interests lie in the application of stem cells and tissue engineering towards regenerative surgery, with more than 20 peer reviewed publications to date. Dr Chim is interested in the application of guidance techniques to induce cell homing for tissue regeneration, as well as investigating alternative cell sources with minimal donor site morbidity for use in musculoskeletal tissue engineering.