The Plastic Surgery Foundation
Log In Donate Now

Grants We Funded

Grant applicants for the 2022 cycle requested a total of over $2.9 million dollars. The PSF Study Section subcommittees of Basic & Translational Research and Clinical Research evaluated 115 grant applications on the following topics:

The PSF awarded research grants totaling almost $550,000 to support 19 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.

The Mechanisms of FK-506 Mediated Enhanced Nerve Regeneration

Principal Investigator
Philip Johnson PhD


Washington University in St. Louis

Funding Mechanism
Pilot Research Grant

Focus Area
Peripheral Nerve, Tissue Engineering

Following peripheral nerve injury and reconstruction, a major factor contributing to the limited return of motor function is the time required for the regenerating nerve to reach its target muscle. The calcineurin binding agent FK-506 (tacrolimus) has demonstrated the ability to accelerate nerve regeneration and accelerate restoration of function following peripheral nerve injury. However, its immunosuppressive properties make it undesirable for use in neurological situations not requiring immunosuppression. FK-506 acts directly on neurons to enhances regeneration by binding to heat shock protein 90 (Hsp-90) and disrupting the steroid receptor complex. In vitro studies have shown that agents that bind Hsp-90 enhance neurite extension in neuronal cell cultures. These Hsp-90 binging agents have yet to be extensively evaluated for there ability to enhance peripheral nerve regeneration in vivo, however other analogs of FK-506 that have shown promise in vitro have demonstrated short commings in vivo. Peripheral nerve regeneration in vivo is fundamentally different than simulating regeneration in in vitro because of Wallerian degeneration (WD). WD in vivo is necessary for peripheral nerve regeneration and is partially carried out through activation of the innate immune response. Recently, it was demonstrated that increased levels of calcineurin (the target of inhibition by FK-506 in vivo) reduces the activation of the innate immune response. Delays in WD in the distal stump have been shown to negatively affect nerve regeneration. It is likely that FK-506 not only stimulates nerve regeneration by acting on the neuron, but also prepares the distal stump for that regeneration by enhancing the innate immune response and thus WD through suppression of calcineurin. Here we propose to investigate the contributions of both these FK-506 derived mechanism of nerve regeneration by evaluating each mechanism independently in comparison to treatment with FK-506.

Philip Johnson received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis. His research expertise is in cell transplant therapies, drug delivery techniques, tissue engineering, and evaluation of implantable biomaterials (in vivo/ in vitro). Current research interests include utilizing neural tissue engineering techniques to enhance peripheral nerve regeneration. Specifically, he is interested in the mechanism of FK-506 mediated enhancement of nerve regeneration through direct action on regenerating neurons and through stimulation of the innate wound healing response. His lab is also interested in the augmentation of decellularized tissues through chemical conjugation to enhance their roles as mediums for cell transplantation and scaffolds for tissue synthesis. His research has been recognized for excellence by the Society for Biomaterials. He is currently the director of the Peripheral Nerve Research Laboratory at Washington University School of Medicine.