The Plastic Surgery Foundation
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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.

Role of non-adherent Clonogenic ASCs on T-cell Immunomodulation

Principal Investigator
Angelo Leto Barone MD


Johns Hopkins University

Funding Mechanism
Pilot Research Grant

Focus Area
Composite Tissue Allotransplantation, Tissue Engineering

The isolation of nacASCs by our group and their unique biological properties, which resemble those owned by upstream pluripotent cells (i.e. embryoid bodies, neurospheres and muse cells), warrants the investigation of the use of such promising cells in different fields of Plastic Surgery. Unlike the adherent adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs), nacASCs share with stem cells from different organs (i.e. healthy breast tissue) their capability to grow in suspension (in a no-adhesion status), form 3D cell clusters (spheres), undergo clonogenesis and divide asymmetrically. The effect that this upstream cell niche may have on modulating the immune system and a comparison with the downstream precursor cells currently addressed as ASCs has never been investigated due to the recent isolation of such cells. In this study we address this gap by investigating two aims: Aim 1: To assess the immunomodulatory properties of nacASCs in vitro. We will test the ideal ratio between Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells (PBMC) and nacASC (PBMC:nacASC) for both inhibition and stimulation of T-cells. Aim 2: To compare the immunomodulatory properties of autologous and allogeneic ASCs and nacASCs toward PBMCs in vitro using: a) autologous and allogeneic nacASCs against PBMCs in vitro using a CFSE-mediated MLR assay and b) autologous and allogeneic conventional adherent ASCs against autologous and allogeneic PBMCs in vitro using a CFSE-mediated MLR assay. Obtaining information on the immunomodulatory properties of nacASCs (in both directions as enhancers or suppressors of the immune system) may prove useful as preliminary in vitro evidence of the role of nacASCs on the activation/modulation of T-cells. More specifically, the goal of this study is to obtain important insight on the safety or oncological risk of fat grafting (stem cell-enriched and non-enriched) in oncology (i.e. mastectomized) patients. If an immunomodulation effect by nacASCs is found, this preliminary data may provide evidence of the potential risks in using fat grafting, which is rich in nacASCs. Such findings may, however, also be valuable to assess the possible future application of nacASCs for studies of a variety of Plastic Surgery and non-plastic surgery related fields, such as post-oncologic reconstructive surgery, treatment of autoimmune diseases and reconstructive transplantation using vascularized composite allografts (VCAs).

Angelo A. Leto Barone, M.D. is currently a post-doctoral research fellow in the Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation (VCA) laboratory of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery of the Johns Hopkins University. He has received his medical degree from the University of Palermo Medical School in Palermo, Italy and has completed plastic surgery training at the same institution. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins in 2012, Dr. Leto Barone has conducted research on VCA at the Laboratory for Stem Cell-based Microsurgical Tissue Engineering and Allograft Design directed by Dr. Curtis L. Cetrulo Jr. at the University of Southern California, where he investigated long-term transgene expression of VCAs in a murine model. At Johns Hopkins, Dr. Leto Barone is investigating tolerance induction strategies in preclinical large animal VCA models in the VCA laboratory co-directed by Drs. W.P. Andrew Lee and Gerald Brandacher. He will be investigating the role of the upstream non-adherent adipose-derived stem cells as possible immunomodulators for various clinical applications.