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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.

Injectable Shape-Memorizing Scaffolds for Skin Sculpting

Principal Investigator
Christoph Nabzdyk MD


Brigham and Women's Hospital, Inc.

Funding Mechanism
Pilot Research Grant

Focus Area

Hyaluronic acid fillers have been a major advance in plastic surgery but are limited by resorption,
degradation, lack of shape control and the need for re-injection. Collaborating with Dr. Mooney at Harvard
University, we will design a new class of injectable hyaluronic based cryogels with diameters of up to 1cm
that can reconstitute their original shape after injection through a needle. These gels can be designed with a
controlled biodegradation rate and a porous ultrastructure that promotes filler engraftment, which may
eliminate the need for reinjection.
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is an abundant component of the skin's extracellular matrix. HA fillers are widely used
for facial skin rejuvenation, scar elevation, skin contouring after liposuction and in breast reconstruction. HA
filler performance is influenced by HA concentration, particle size (average 300 – 700µm) and degree of HA
cross-linking. Fillers should elicit minimal inflammatory response and remain localized at the injection site.
Fillers are expected to provide a texture comparable to the surrounding tissue and long-lasting shape
retention ideally through gradual filler incorporation into the surrounding tissue. Thus far commercially
available HA products only provide temporary cosmetic improvements for up to several months. However,
long-term shape retention and large volume effects remain challenges.
Dr. Mooney and his group at the Wyss Institute, Harvard University recently described the technique to
generate injectable 3D shape-memorizing cryogel scaffolds made from alginate. These scaffolds reveal a
soft gel texture, in vivo longevity and are designed to promote cellularization. This cryogels are highly
customizable and can be made from various polymers such as HA.
In this study we propose to evaluate 3D hyaluronic acid cryogels (3D HA) regarding their shape retention
capability, firmness and biocompatibility in a mouse model. Non-invasive in vivo imaging system technology
(IVIS) will render fluorescence imagery of implanted filler materials. Skin firmness measurements will be
performed with the use of a highly sensitive 00-000 Shure durometer. Immunohistochemistry will be carried
to characterize the tissue response towards the implanted materials.
These scaffolds can further be fine-tuned for specific applications to function as cell and drug delivery
devices and therefore might become useful for a broad range of cosmetic and reconstructive indications.

Dr. Nabzdyk is a physician scientist with over a decade of research experience in the fields of cardiovascular and wound healing biology, gene and cell therapies and biomaterials. Dr. Nabzdyk is currently a NIH T-32 Research Fellow in the tissue engineering and wound healing laboratory of Dr. Orgill at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Nabzdyk graduated from Charité University Medicine Berlin with his MD and an additional doctorate title (“Dr. med.”; magna cum laude) for studying the “Cardiac Plasticity of Human Adult Stem Cells of the Adipose Tissue” in the lab of Dr. Eckhard Alt at Tulane University. Dr. Nabzdyk gained further experience during medical school in cardiovascular genetics at the Max Planck Society and as a postdoc at UCSF and BIDMC/Harvard in the fields of RNAi, biomaterials, wound healing and intimal hyperplasia. Prior to working with Dr. Orgill, Dr. Nabzdyk trained in general surgery at Tufts Medical Center. Dr. Nabzdyk has worked successfully on various collaborative projects that yielded numerous manuscripts in prominent scientific journals and presentations at national and international conferences. Dr. Nabzdyk received the “Young Researcher Prize” at the 2011 European Symposium for Vascular Biomaterials.