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.

Engineering Permanent Nipple Projection

Principal Investigator
Jaime Bernstein MD


Joan & Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University

Funding Mechanism
Pilot Research Grant

Focus Area
Breast (Cosmetic / Reconstructive), Tissue Engineering

In this project we propose a novel approach for reconstruction of the nipple utilizing 3D-printed external scaffolding in combination with minced costal cartilage, which is normally discarded in a local flap breast reconstruction, as a biological, autologous permanent filler. As opposed to the current approaches in which local skin, fat, or synthetic materials are used to create a nipple, in pilot studies, our costal cartilage constructs can more reliably maintain the size and contour of the neo-nipple, resulting in more predictable outcomes. This is achieved by our custom designed 3D external scaffold, printed out of biocompatible and biodegradable material, which supports the implanted filler during initial maturation phase of the implant that would otherwise undergo contracture and loss of contour. The mincing of the costal cartilage also has the potential to allow for better replication of the biomechanics of the native nipple, a crucial factor which current approaches fail to achieve. In this project we will further evaluate the practicality of this approach using an animal model of nipple reconstruction in which a commonly used CV flap will be created on the dorsa of rats and minced costal cartilage (either scaffolded or naked) will be implanted as a filler material. Gross analysis of the formed neo-cartilage, its contour and projection will be compared over longer time points to assess the affect of the external scaffolding. CT scanning will also be used to more accurately assess volume changes over time as it compares between naked and scaffolded constructs. Histological analysis will be done to evaluate viability of constructs over time and its integration with the surrounding tissue. We will also assess, for the first time, the mechanical properties of the native nipple to help the engineering and reconstructive community better understand the structure we aim to recreate. This approach uses the patient's own costal cartilage to recreate the nipple, which eliminates the need for a separate procedure or donor site when done intraoperatively as a part of the initial breast reconstruction and allows for a potentially life-long lasting reconsruction . Importantly, we aim to fabricate a more realistic reconstruction of the native nipple, as compared to current methods in terms of contour, projection, and biomechanical character, that can rapidly be translated from animal model to humans.

Jaime L. Bernstein is a first-year integrated plastic and reconstructive surgery resident at New York-Presbyterian-Cornell/Columbia. Jaime received her MD with honors in research from Weill Cornell Medical College in 2018. She also received her Masters in Science in Clinical and Translational Research from Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences in 2018. She is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha and received an National Institute of Health TL1 grant to conduct tissue engineering research during medical school. Jaime has received numerous nationally-based merit scholarships during medical school and has been an author on over 50 peer reviewed papers and abstracts.