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.

The Role of Jagged-1 in Angiogenesis of Infantile Hemangiomas

Principal Investigator
June Wu MD


Columbia University Medical Center

Funding Mechanism
Pilot Research Grant

Focus Area

This project aims to understand the role of Notch signaling in the regulation of the lifecycle of infantile
hemangioma (IH) from proliferation through involution. IHs are the most common benign tumor of infancy,
yet its pathogenesis is still poorly understood, and there is no FDA-approved therapy for the treatment of
IHs. Most His develop in isolation and never require intervention. However, problematic hemangiomas can
cause major morbidity including amblyopia, permanent disfiguring scarring, and even mortality. In addition, in
PHACE syndrome, a large, segmental IH is associated with major abnormal vascular architecture, and
affected infants have missing blood vessels and circulation to the brain, increasing their risk of strokes.
Notch signaling plays a pivotal role in cell fate determination and cellular differentiation during
embryogenesis. Notch genes have been shown to be expressed in IHs. Since there are no viable animal models for the study of IHs, this project will use isolated hemangioma stem cells (HemSCs) and hemangioma endothelial cells (HemECs) to study Notch signaling. Using silencing RNA (siRNA) technology, expression of specific Notch genes will be inhibited in order to study the function of
these isolated HemSCs and HemECs. Other methods include using commercially available pan-Notch
inhibitors such as gamma-secretase, as well as specifically designed antibodies produced in our laboratory.
Cellular function such as proliferation, migration, and endothelial network formation will be studied. In
particular, preliminary results in our laboratory has shown that human umbilical venous endothelial cells
(HUVECs), when co-cultured with HemSCs, results in a more complex vascular pattern, with thicker tubular
structures, and increased branching points.
Understanding specific regulators of IHs will help in the design of a specific treatment for affected infants.
Moreover, it will provide insight into vasculogenesis--the formation of blood vessels from stem cells. This
knowledge will have broad applications, including the design of vascularized, tissue-engineered products.

Dr. June Wu is an Assistant Professor of Surgery at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University Medical Center. Her clinical interests are craniofacial surgery and vascular anomalies. Her research focuses on the pathophysiology of hemangiomas. In particular, she is interested in exploring the role of Notch signaling in the pathogenesis and evolution of hemangiomas. Her laboratory first showed that Notch genes are expressed in hemangiomas, and current work investigates the effects of Notch receptor and Notch ligand interactions. After finishing her undergraduate studies at Princeton University, she enrolled at Columbia’s College of Physicians & Surgeons. She was inspired to go into plastic surgery by her first mentor, Dr. David Chiu. She trained at the Integrated Plastic Surgery program at Montefiore Medical Center under Dr. Berish Strauch. Her craniofacial and vascular anomalies fellowships were done at Children’s Hospital Boston under Dr. John Mulliken.