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.

Reversal of UV irradiation-induced skin injury with c-Jun siRNA

Principal Investigator
Sara Immerman


New York University School of Medicine

Funding Mechanism
Pilot Research Grant

Focus Area
Wounds / Scar, Cosmetic

The skin is directly exposed to the environment and thus vulnerable to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
Long term exposure to UV radiation has deleterious effects in human skin, including sunburn, cancer, immune suppression and premature aging. Sunburn and immune suppression occur acutely, whereas skin cancer and photoaging result from accumulated damage caused by chronic, repeated exposures. Skin cancer frequently occurs in skin that is photoaged. Photoaged skin is characterized by thickening, rough texture, coarse wrinkles, and mottled pigmentation. With the increase in life expectancy and the emphasis that the American culture places on beauty, the "aging face" is a rapidly growing field. Consequently, the resulting facial skin changes can be detrimental to both one's health and self-esteem. The molecular mechanisms of photoaging secondary to UV irradiation implicate that c-Jun, part of the transcription factor activator protein 1 (AP-1), is the common mediator following injury. Previous studies have
characterized c-Jun up-regulation following UV radiation resulting in degradation of collagen and an increase
in matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), culminating in the loss of elasticity that is the phenotypic hallmark of
photoaging. Previous work in our laboratory has demonstrated topical short interfering RNA (siRNA) can be
used for local gene silencing of cutaneous wounds, which has since been adapted to achieve transcutaneous silencing of intact skin. We will test the hypothesis that transcutaneous inhibition of c-Jun production via topical application of siRNA will reverse UV irradiation-induced skin injury and improve skin elasticity. The first aim is to develop a model of UV irradiation injury to the dorsal skin that shows reliable up-regulation of c-Jun and AP-1 as well as collagen degradation. This work will be performed in a mouse model and will characterize fibrosis by
histology, immunohistochemistry, Western blot, and RT-PCR. The second aim is to demonstrate siRNA
blockade of c-Jun production in vitro. Dermal fibroblast explants will be used to determine optimal siRNA
delivery vehicles and doses, as well as the time course of the effect. Our third aim is to demonstrate in the
mouse model that after injury, topically applied siRNA blocks local and not systemic c-Jun production, and
that the result is alteration of the skin phenotype. Skin will be evaluated by the techniques mentioned above.
In addition, mechanical testing (tensiometry) will be employed to measure elasticity and tensile strength of
siRNA treated and control skin.

Sara B. Immerman, MD is currently a fourth year resident of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery at New York University Langone Medical Center. She is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania and New York University School of Medicine. She has published numerous papers in peer-reviewed journals and is a reviewer for Archives of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. In the basic science realm, Sara is on the forefront of research into topical gene therapy. In her free time, she enjoys skiing and painting.