The Plastic Surgery Foundation
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Grants We Funded

Grant Applicants for 2020 requested more than $4.1 million. The PSF Study Section Subcommittees of Basic and Translational Research and Clinical Research Evaluated 111 applications on the following topics:

The PSF awarded Research Grants totaling more than $860,000 to support 24 plastic surgery research proposals.

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.

Tissue engineered 3-D ear cartilage construct

Principal Investigator
Alan Widgerow MD


University of California, Irvine

Funding Mechanism
PSF/MTF Biologics Allograft Tissue Research Grant

Focus Area
Composite Tissue Allotransplantation, Composite Tissue Allotransplantation

Currently, the treatment of congenital deformity or absence of the ear necessitates the use of the patients' own rib cartilage for reconstruction. The rib is carved into the desired shape and then covered with soft tissue (muscle, skin). This is a laborious process and extremely painful for the young patient. Tissue engineering offers the possibility of using the patient's own cartilage cells to grow cartilage in the laboratory. However these cells are extremely difficult to grow. It has been found that by combining stem cells isolated from fatty tissue from the patient, the growth and function of the cartilage cells increases substantially. In addition a structural framework of non-cellular material derived from fat of non-living donors provides an ideal scaffold on which these cells can grow. This framework can be fabricated into the shape of an ear. By combining the cartilage cells and fat stem cells from the patient and growing these in the presence of the framework described and in media that encourages cartilage formation, we believe we can grow a cartilage framework compatible with the patient.

1) To establish the ideal ratio of fat stem cells to chondrocytes effective in inducing cartilage formation.

2) To generate cartilage tissue in the laboratory setting by seeding this ADSC-chondrocyte cell mix onto an ear-shaped preformed matrix template derived from decellularized fat.

Cartilage engineering currently involves two major difficulties that we're aiming to overcome:

(1) Yielding a sufficient number of cells with chondrogenic properties (ability to form cartilage). Recent studies have shown that co-culturing chondrocytes with adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs) aids the production and function of cartilage producing cells. We will define the ideal ratio
(2) Finding a biologically compatible framework in which to place these cells. In their native environment in the body chondrocytes exist within a three-dimensional substance that allows for optimal function. Utilizing a matrix derived from fat would provide such an environment and would be compatible with the seeded cells

Successful generation of cartilage producing cells that gradually replace a pre-designed 3-D biologic framework would provide an ideal technology for cartilage production and engineering.

MBBCh; FCS (SA) Plast; MMed (Wits); FACS Professor Widgerow completed his undergraduate and post-graduate studies at the University of the Witwatersrand South Africa. He was the top surgical graduate at the University of Witwatersrand in 1989. He has held various positions in numerous academic and professional associations including that of President of the Association of Plastic and Reconstructive surgery of Southern Africa (APRSSA).He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and was appointed Emeritus Professor by the Senate of Wits University in 1999. He is author of over 100 plastic surgical related publications and 2 books. He is currently editor-in-chief of Wound Healing Southern Africa. He was also the founder and medical director of 11 wound clinics in South Africa. His current fields of interest are medical device innovations, tissue engineering and wound healing. After 20 years in private plastic surgical practice in South Africa, Prof Widgerow relocated to Irvine California in Dec 2009 to pursue his interests in medical device innovations and wound care, but he still plays an active role in academic medicine world-wide. He is currently President of Adar Science Inc CA USA , a medical device company, and in July 2012 he was appointed to the Faculty of the University of California Irvine Plastic Surgery Dept as Adjunct Professor and Director of the Center for Tissue Engineering.