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.

Microsurgery Simulation in Training and Competency Assessment

Principal Investigator
Kari Keys MD


University of Washington

Funding Mechanism
ACAPS/PSF Research Grant

Focus Area
Education, Microsurgery

This study seeks to answer the question, “Can a standardized microsurgery simulation assessment be used to evaluate the technical competency of plastic surgery trainees?” Validating an assessment tool in this context requires data on the relationship between the tool and real life performance, the ability of the tool to measure different levels of expertise, and the feasibility for integration of this tool into existing training programs. Using a grant awarded by the Center for Leadership in Medical Education (University of Washington), this team has developed a set of short, inexpensive, portable microsurgery simulation modules that can be used for both skill acquisition and competency assessment with pilot data demonstrating the ability to stratify skill level between trainees.

This sets the stage for the next level of investigation. This study seeks to build a concrete measure of technical skills; decreasing our reliance on subjective assessments and strengthening our ability to train future surgeons.

Specifically, this study aims to demonstrate the ability of standardized microsurgery simulation modules to distinguish levels of proficiency. A good simulator will need to be able to capture the skill level of trainees and reflect this in the scores obtained. Ideally, granular separation will distinguish not just novice from expert but midlevel trainees from lower level and upper level as well.

Additionally, this study will develop a target competency score that correlates with Milestone achievement. Timed and rated scores at different levels of training and experience can be used to determine the sensitivity and specificity of different cutoff scores, allowing determination of a final score which best separates those with competent and incompetent skill levels.

Kari Keys, MD is the Associate Program Director for the Plastic Surgery Residency Program at the University of Washington. After attending medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, she completed residency in Plastic Surgery at the University of Washington. She now has a reconstructive surgery practice split between Harborview Medical Center and the Veterans Affairs Hospital where she is the Chief of Plastic Surgery. Her research interests include surgical simulation in training, with development of several low-cost, high impact simulators, as well as studying trauma and lower extremity reconstruction outcomes. She is an Associate Faculty for the University of Washington Institute for Simulation and Interprofesional Studies (ISIS), and the Harborview Injury Prevention Research Center (HIPRC) and the Medical Director of Surgical Wound Care Service at Harborview Medical Center.