The Plastic Surgery Foundation
Log In Donate Now

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.

Autologous Adipose Tissue Supplementation, Potentiating Nerve Fiber Regeneration

Principal Investigator
Stephen Kemp PhD


University of Michigan

Funding Mechanism
ASPN/PSF Research Grant

Focus Area
Peripheral Nerve, Fat Grafting

Annually, 360,000 Americans suffer from upper extremity paralytic syndromes. Nerve autografts are the clinical gold standard for reconstruction of nerve gaps but have several intrinsic disadvantages, including donor site morbidity, scarring, dysesthesias, sensory loss, and possible development of painful neuroma. In addition, in all cases of nerve gap repair, functional recovery remains incomplete largely due to the lack of robust nerve fiber regeneration across the nerve graft, leading to impaired quality of life.

Research efforts have focused on guiding nerve regeneration using various conduits, but reports on successful regeneration through long nerve conduits are inconclusive. Several studies have demonstrated the regenerative effects of adipose-derived tissues when used in combination with nerve conduits. The effects of adipose tissue on neural regeneration as an adjunct to the clinical gold standard nerve autograft have never been studied. Most studies that have examined the effects of adipose tissue on neural regeneration use processed adipose tissue concentrates of adipose-derived stem cells (ASC) due to the potential neurotrophic and angiogenic benefit of ASCs toward nerve repair. This processing creates regulatory and scaling burdens that limit clinical utility. Clinically translatable studies are proposed that will explore supplementing nerve autografts with minimally processed adipose-derived tissue for long-length peripheral nerve gap repair with the goal of providing enhanced functional recovery.

This proposal will determine if nerve gap regeneration is potentiated by supplementing nerve autografts with autologous a) whole adipose tissue (unpurified fat) or b) purified uncultured, undifferentiated ASCs (uuASCs). Aim 1 will determine the concentration of ASCs in unpurified fat and purified uuASCs. Aim 2 will supplement nerve autografts with either autologous unpurified fat or autologous uuASCs along the length of a nerve autograft. Aim 3 will involve histomorphometric analysis of the nerve and innervated muscle. Rats will be randomly assigned to one of four groups (n=6 rats/group): 1) no peroneal nerve injury; and 3 groups treated with 30-mm nerve autograft 2) plus saline injection, 3) plus autologous unpurified fat, and 4) plus purified uuASCs. Five months postoperatively, effects of adipose supplementation are measured with electromyography, nerve conduction studies, reinnervated muscle force and endurance, and histomorphometry.

Stephen Kemp, PhD completed his Honours Bachelor of Science at the University of Toronto, where he conducted his undergraduate thesis under the supervision of Dr. Gerald Cupchik. During this time, Dr. Kemp’s research focused on the psychology of creativity, and the development of a "matching and modulation" psychological model of aesthetic response. Dr. Kemp’s undergraduate thesis led to the publication of two peer-reviewed publications, and one book chapter. Following graduation, Dr. Kemp completed his Master’s degree at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, under the supervision of Linda Parker, PhD. His research focused on the effect of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) on lithium induced sickness behaviours in both rats and house musk shrews. Stephen completed his PhD at the University of Calgary, under the mentorship of Rajiv Midha, MD, focusing on the anatomical, sensorimotor, and functional evaluation of peripheral nerve regeneration through bio-engineered conduits in rodents. During this tenure, Dr. Kemp became a member of numerous scientific societies, including the Society for Neuroscience, the Canadian Society for Neuroscience, and the American Society for Peripheral Nerve. Dr. Kemp also published nine peer-reviewed publications. One of his papers was highlighted in Experimental Neurology as an outstanding paper. Following his tenure in Calgary, Dr. Kemp accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto and The Hospital for Sick Children with Gregory Borschel, MD and Tessa Gordon, PhD. Dr. Kemp continues to investigate treatment of nerve injuries, and has expanded his research to focus on treatment of neonatal nerve injuries. Dr. Kemp has won numerous awards during his scientific career, including prestigious postdoctoral awards. Overall, Dr. Kemp has 14 published peer reviewed publications, two book chapters, two News and Views commentaries, 18 abstracts, and 21 international conference presentations.