The Plastic Surgery Foundation
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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.

Improving fat graft survival by ex vivo non-viral gene delivery

Principal Investigator
Natasa Miljkovic


University of Pittsburgh

Funding Mechanism
Pilot Research Grant

Focus Area
Tissue Engineering, Cranio / Maxillofacial / Head and Neck

Autologous fat grafting is a simple and natural way of doing face reconstruction, but it is still not accepted as a standard procedure because of the unpredictable clinical results caused by low rate of fat graft survival. The main objective of this project is to improve fat graft survival by adding adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) non-virally transfected with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and increasing graft vascularization. This project will be divided in three parts: 1) Transfecting ASCs using a non-viral delivery system based on nanobiohybrids, 2) In vitro characterization of signal efficiency and duration and 3) Evaluating the efficacy of this system on graft survival in animal model. The first phase of the study will include: fabrication of nanobiohybrids, ASCs transfection with GFP, and transfection efficiency and signal duration assessment. The second phase: ASCs transfection with VEGF and impact of this system on graft survival in animal model. Athymic nude mice will be divided in three groups (n=20): experimental group - lipoaspirate and VEGF-ASCs, positive control - lipoaspirate and GFP-ASCs and negative control - lipoaspirate. Animals will be followed-up for 12 weeks. Plasma VEGF levels, weight and volume displacement measurements, H&E and immunohistochemical staining for CD 31 will be performed. The exact number of newly formed blood vessels will be determined using software (Metamorph). The significance of this study is to implement a relatively simple, efficient and safe transfection technique to ASCs in order to increase the vascularization and survival of fat grafts. To the best of our knowledge, this is a novel approach to VEGF delivery. Up till now, VEGF has been efficiently delivered using a viral vector, which carries the risk of immunogenicity and insertional mutagenesis. This study is focused in establishing fat grafting as a reliable, standard clinical procedure for face reconstruction.