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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.

Effect of Schwann Cell Therapy on Neuroregeneration after Limb Allotransplantation

Principal Investigator
Gerald Brandacher MD


University of Pittsburgh

Funding Mechanism
Pilot Research Grant

Focus Area
Composite Tissue Allotransplantation, Tissue Engineering

Functional motor recovery following limb allotransplantation is based on regeneration of the transected host and donor neurons. As a therapeutic agent,Schwann cells can successfully and safely be harvested,cultured,and reintroduced into peripheral nerves to aid in and favor neuroregeneration. This study aims to examine the mechanism and effects of neuroregeneration following limb allotransplantation by introducing isologous Schwann cells into the sciatic nerve of the donor leg prior to engraftment. A fully mismatched rat hind limb allotransplantation model where Brown Norway rats serve as limb donors for Lewis rat recipients will be utilized. All donor limbs will receive Schwann cells, suspension solution, or Schwann cells transfected with Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP). Neuroregeneration will be examined after 4 and 12 weeks. Recipient animals will undergo walking track analysis in order to assess the hind limb motor performance by video capture and analyzed to measure the stance factors and joint angles. Electrophysiology will assess the quality of neuroregeneration. This will provide detailed clinical information about evaluating peripheral nerve function after nerve injury and repair in this transplant model. In addition, the gastrocnemius muscle ratio for each rat will be measured. Those nerve samples treated with Schwann cells or suspension solution will then be embedded in epoxy and stained for Toluidine blue to characterize myelin of regenerated nerve fibers. The cellular counts and structural architecture will be analyzed with light microscopy. Those nerve samples treated with GFP-Schwann cells will be embedded in Paraffin and stained for the Schwann cell marker S-100 and further visualized for co-localization of GFP using fluorescent microscopy. The results of this study will significantly contribute to advance our knowledge of Schwann cells as a therapeutic option for improved nerve regeneration and functional outcome following limb allotransplantation.

Dr. Gerald Brandacher is scientific director of the Johns Hopkins Composite Tissue Allotransplantation (CTA) program. He is also a visiting associate professor of surgery in the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins in 2010, Dr. Brandacher was a key member of the hand transplant programs in Innsbruck, Austria and at the University of Pittsburgh. As scientific director of the program at UPMC he was instrumental in designing a novel cell-based immunomodulatory treatment protocol for CTA and was also part of the team performing the first bilateral hand transplant and first forearm transplant in the US. His main scientific interests are donor-specific immune tolerance and immunomonitoring strategies. Dr. Brandacher received his medical degree from Leopold Franzens University, Innsbruck, School of Medicine, and completed further surgical training at the Center of Operative Medicine, Department of Visceral, Transplant and Thoracic Surgery, at Innsbruck Medical University. He is the recipient of many national and international awards related to his work in reconstructive transplantation and the author of numerous papers, book chapters and abstracts. He is Past-President of the Austrian Society of Surgical Research, Board Member of the Composite Tissue Allotransplantation Working Group of the European Society of Organ Transplantation (ESOT), an invited member to the American Society of Transplantation (AST) and is a Founding and Scientific Advisory Board Member of the American Society of Reconstructive Transplantation (ASRT).