The Plastic Surgery Foundation
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Grants We Funded

In 2019, The Plastic Surgery Foundation (The PSF) awarded 33 investigator-initiated projects and allocated $891,274 to support the newest, clinically relevant research in plastic surgery.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons/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.

Determining the potential of adipose-derived stem cells

Principal Investigator
Sarah Frommer MD, PhD


Rhode Island Hospital

Funding Mechanism
Pilot Research Grant

Focus Area
General Reconstructive, Tissue Engineering

For a cell to be called a stem cell it must fulfill certain criteria such as, it is not committed to be a certain body tissue, displays a capacity for self-renewal throughout the lifetime of an organism, and its progeny has the potential to become functionally mature cells upon tissue injury or during tissue maintenance. The ability to become multiple tissue types is described as potency. Stem cells can be multipotent, i.e. they give rise to a subset of tissue types; pluripotent, i.e. can give rise to tissue derived from anywhere in the body; or totipotent, i.e. in addition to being able to form any tissue in the body, the stem cell can give rise to structures outside of the developing baby, such as the placenta. Early work with stem cells focused on using these cells as tools to investigate the development of human tissues, but there has been a shift in focus to their use as a therapy for disease and building blocks for reconstruction. Stem cells have been found in multiple tissues including muscle, brain, skin, and fat. Fat or adipose tissue has become a major focus in the stem cell community due to its abundance, accessibility, and the large population of stem cells it harbors. There is a lot of hope and excitement about stem cells, but there is still a lot we must learn about these cells and their potential before doctors can use the cells as therapy. Plastic surgeons are in a unique and advantageous position to study fat derived stem cells and their use clinically; our training, which includes harvesting and grafting fat tissue, gives us a foundation for tissue reconstruction throughout the body and across age ranges. There are many commercially available fat harvesting and processing systems which claim to preserve fat derived stem cells, but it is unclear which is best at: 1) yielding the most cells; 2) preserving stem cells; and 3) yielding quality stem cells with a high level of potency. This project is designed to help answer those questions.

Sarah Frommer, MD/PhD, obtained a BS in Biomedical Engineering at RPI, Magna Cum Laude. She was then accepted to the MD/PhD program at the University of Minnesota which was funded through the NIH. Her PhD thesis was a translational project investigating the use of adult stem cells for the treatment of muscular dystrophy. During her medical training, she had the opportunity to travel to Israel, Belgium, Guatemala, Tanzania, and India to do research and medical work, which had a large impact on her decision to pursue a career in Plastic Surgery. In 2010, she started residency at Brown University in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Currently, she is a PGY6 and plans to pursue a craniofacial fellowship. She hopes to stay in academic medicine to continue clinical and basic science research.