The Plastic Surgery Foundation
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Grants We Funded

Grant applicants for the 2023 cycle requested a total of nearly $4 million dollars. The PSF Study Section Subcommittees of Basic & Translational Research and Clinical Research evaluated nearly 140 grant applications on the following topics:

The PSF awarded research grants totaling over $1 million dollars to support nearly 30 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.

Simulation Model For Microsurgery Training

Principal Investigator
Howard Wang MD


University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

Funding Mechanism
ACAPS/PSF Research Grant

Focus Area

Mastery of the skills necessary for the performance of microsurgery requires a great deal of dedication and practice. The techniques used in suturing very small vascular structures are generalizable to all aspects of surgery, and the acquisition of expertise in these techniques is a very rewarding experience. However, the trainee surgeon often has very limited access to training in this area and such training as exists, is often haphazard, non-standardized and limited.

Our project's objective is to address this training deficit by developing a proficiency-based curriculum for the teaching of microvascular anastomosis technique which can be incorporated into plastic and general surgery residency programs. Our specific aims are to :

1. Develop proficiency-based microvascular anastomosis curriculum using simulation
2. Test content and construct validity of curriculum across participants with varying levels of expertise
3. Evaluate ease of transferability of skills learned to the clinical setting

Our curriculum will be simulation-based and will use gradually progressing levels of task difficulty for the training of participants. Our curriculum will be rigorously tested to ensure validity and the transferability of the skills learned will be evaluated as a measure of its utility. Our study will be experimental and will utilize pretest-posttest change in performance to evaluate the effect of our curriculum.

There will be four phases to our project:

1. Pretest Phase - Participants will perform the tasks on the synthetic blood vessels during a proctored exercise. Their performances will be video-taped and scored.
2. Training Phase - Participants will be randomly assigned to train according to one of two methods: Traditional OR-based approach or proficiency-based training using simulation. Participants assigned to the proficiency-based training approach will train to proficiency on each of the 6 microvascular anastomosis tasks in a sequential manner. Proficiency will be assessed using a scoring rubric developed for the study.
3. Posttest Phase - Participants will perform the tasks on the synthetic blood vessels during a proctored exercise . Their performance will be video-taped and scored.
4. Transferability Phase - Participants will be assessed as they perform a supervised microvascular anastomosis on a patient in the OR. The plastic surgery residents participating in our study are required to perform these anastomoses as part of their residency training. We will thus be able to compare performance skill between the two training groups.

At the completion of this project the we would have succeeded in evaluating a proficiency-based, objectively-assessed, comprehensive curriculum for training residents in microvascular anastomosis technique. This curriculum will be easily replicable. It is our hope that this training model will be widely adopted by general and plastic surgery residency programs, thus addressing the training deficit that has hitherto existed.

Dr. Howard T. Wang is Division Chief, Residency Program Director, and Associate Professor for the Division of Plastic Surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio. His interest is in microvascular reconstruction of the lower extremity, head and neck and breast. Dr. Wang completed his Plastic Surgery Residency at Duke University Medical Center. While at Duke, Dr. Wang spent 6 months training in Hand Surgery at Kleinert, Kutz, and Associates in Louisville, Kentucky. Prior to this, he completed a General Surgery Residency at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. His education began at Cornell University with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology . Following graduation, he attended Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where he received his Doctor of Medicine in 1995.