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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.

Regenerative Peripheral Nerve Interfaces for the Treatment of Painful Neuromas

Principal Investigator
Stephen Kemp PhD


University of Michigan, Section of Plastic Surgery

Funding Mechanism
ASPN/PSF Research Grant

Focus Area
Peripheral Nerve

More than 185,000 people undergo amputations in the US alone each year, and the total number of amputees is expected to be nearly 3.6 million people by 2050. Almost one-third of these individuals will form painful neuromas as a result of nerve injury that occurs at the time of amputation. This pain can be extremely debilitating, and can lead to disability and poor quality of life. Once a neuroma is symptomatic, surgical intervention is performed. Because the distal nerve end is not present in amputees, nerve grafting is not possible. Over 100 surgical techniques have been directed at the treatment and prevention of terminal neuromas, however none have been completely effective.
The Regenerative Peripheral Nerve Interface (RPNI) is a novel treatment strategy for the alleviation of pain associated with neuroma following amputation. Once the neuroma has been excised, the RPNI consists of surgically implanting the nerve into a free skeletal muscle graft. Axons from the nerve readily innervate the muscle graft, greatly reducing neuroma recurrence. Although preclinical work in our lab has focused on RPNI characterization, we have not evaluated the use of RPNIs as a treatment strategy to alleviate chronic pain following nerve injury. We seek to assess the viability of RPNIs as a novel treatment strategy to improve pain outcomes following neuroma excision.
This proposal will determine if RPNI surgery will: a) promote electrophysiological recovery through EMG, and the orderly distribution of novel neuromuscular junctions within the RPNI, and; b) decrease pain hypersensitivity, as evaluated by a battery of qualified pain tests. Aim 1 will determine the effect of RPNI surgery to treat painful neuromas in a terminal neuroma model in rats. Neuromas will be excised, and RPNIs will be surgically implanted in motor, sensory, and mixed nerve injury models. EMG will be evaluated at study endpoints. Histological evaluation of regeneration in the RPNI will be performed via immuno-enabled three-dimensional imaging of solvent-cleared organs (iDISCO), and will analyze the distribution of nerve fibers and new neuromuscular junctions formed. Aim 2 will serially evaluate behavioral analysis at both baseline neuroma conditions and following RPNI treatment. A battery of qualified rodent pain tests will be evaluated including the von Frey test, Hargreaves test, and cold sensation test. These assessments will determine whether rpni surgical treatment decreases pain hypersensitivity.

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.