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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.

Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition in Tendon Regeneration

Principal Investigator
Kristoffer Sugg MD, PhD


The Regents of the University of Michigan

Funding Mechanism
Pilot Research Grant

Focus Area
Hand or Upper Extremity

Tendon injuries occur frequently in physically active individuals and as a result of trauma, but the clinical outcomes for these injuries can be poor. Even with surgical repair, excessive scar tissue formation can severely limit function. Unlike our understanding of skeletal muscle regeneration, very little is known about the cellular and molecular mechanisms of how tendons heal. Therefore, a greater insight into this process may lead to targeted therapies that could potentially serve as an adjunct to surgery. Tendon healing is orchestrated by fibroblasts, which have a well-described role in synthesizing and remodeling extracellular matrix (ECM) after tissue injury. In many organ systems, epithelial cells contribute to the pool of fibroblasts, which can then regenerate damaged ECM. This sequence of biologic events is known as epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). While most tendons are surrounded by sheets of epithelial cells, and these tissue layers could provide a source of fibroblasts to repair injured tendon ECM, the role of EMT in tendon repair has not been previously described. In this proposal, the main objective is to determine if EMT is contributing to the repair of injured tendon and its overall importance in tendon regeneration. Our preliminary data suggest that EMT-related signaling molecules are highly expressed in both the epithelium surrounding tendon as well as at the repair site following an acute tear and repair. Using mice wherein these EMT-related signaling molecules can be deleted only in cells giving rise to tendon fibroblasts, the impact of these factors on tendon regeneration can be investigated by measuring changes in gene expression, histology and tendon mechanics. Additionally, in a series of lineage tracing experiments using transgenic mice, the epithelium surrounding tendon can be labelled with a fluorescent protein to determine if the fibroblasts emerging from it are in fact true descendents of epithelial cells. The proposed studies will greatly expand our knowledge of basic tendon fibroblast biology and there is potential for a real clinical impact on the practice of plastic surgery. Findings from this proposal could lead to future translational studies involving the design of new therapeutics directed at improving tendon healing after surgical repair, and may provide useful cellular markers that can be applied to tissue engineering approaches for the reconstruction of critical tendon defects.

A native of Southeastern Michigan, Dr. Sugg completed his undergraduate studies in Chemistry as a Presidential Scholar at Wayne State University. He then earned a medical degree from the Wayne State University School of Medicine. With enthusiasm for complex problem solving, Dr. Sugg entered the Integrated Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Residency Program at the University of Michigan in July 2007. He spent one year in the Neuromuscular Lab as a postdoctoral fellow investigating ways to provide sensation to prosthetic limbs. More recently, he enrolled into the Program in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Michigan to pursue a PhD degree in Molecular and Integrative Physiology. The focus of his dissertation is on the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate tendon growth and regeneration.