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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.

Induction of Tolerance in CTA with TGF-beta/Fc,Rapamycin and ALS

Principal Investigator
Wensheng Zhang


University of Pittsburgh

Funding Mechanism
Pilot Research Grant

Focus Area
Composite Tissue Allotransplantation

Composite Tissue Allotransplantation (CTA) is the umbrella term for transplantations composed of multiple tissues like the hand or face. However, a major drawback for CTA is the requirement for lifelong immunosuppression. The growing development of CTA highlights the need for tolerance induction protocols. CD4+ Foxp3+ regulatory T cells (Treg) have emerged as critical effectors in tolerance induction and maintenance. Evidence exists that Treg are selectively expanded by Rapamycin or T cell-depleting agents. Combination of Rapamycin and T-cell depletion treatment has been observed to promote long-term limb allograft survival in a mouse CTA model, but not sufficient to induce tolerance. The essential contribution of TGF-beta to the generation and function of Treg is reminiscent of its potential role for the control of transplant immunity. Thus, we hypothesize the synergistic action of TGF-beta, Rapamycin and T-cell depletion will further shift the balance of transplant immunity toward tolerance by strengthening the cadre of Treg. Moreover, we have developed a novel auto-active long-lived human mutant TGF-beta/ Fc fusion protein to overcome the problem associated with the short t1/2 and secreted latent form of TGF-beta. In this project we will explore a short course of TGF-beta/Fc fusion protein, Rapamycin and antilymphocyte serum combined therapy to induce donor-specific tolerance in rat hind climb allografts and further investigate their underlying mechanisms. Achieving tolerance will have a profound impact on the clinical application of CTA, likely greater than even solid organ transplantation. This study is likely to lead to a safe, effective and pro-tolerogenic approach for CTA.

I obtained my M.D. and Ph.D. from Capital Medical University, China, where I worked as an attending doctor and was a PI on two research grants founded by Capital Medical Development Fund and Beijing Science Fund. I started my postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School in 2007 and continued my work at University of Pittsburgh. Now I am a Research Instructor in the Department of Plastic Surgery. My researches focus on the basic mechanisms and novel strategies that generate and maintain tolerance in autoimmune diseases and organ transplantation. Over the last 8 years, I have been awarded the JDRF Postdoctoral Fellowship Grant and the PSEF Pilot Research Grant. I have also received Award of Distinguished Fellow and Young Investigator Award by American Society of Transplantation.