Overview of Research Activities
Investigators: Shelley R. Winn, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Research; Director of Research Studies.
Juliana E. Hansen, M.D., Associate Professor; Division Chief.
Reid V. Mueller, M.D., Associate Professor.
Joel S. Solomon, M.D., Assistant Professor.
Anna A. Kuang, M.D., Assistant Professor.
Research activities in the Division of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery are committed to developing strategies to heal musculoskeletal injuries/defects, radiation and chemotherapeutic injuries, osteoporotic bone, hypertrophic wounds, and other clinically challenging conditions. Research programs include the use of biomaterials as biomimetics and drug delivery vehicles combined with gene and cell-based therapies for the engineering of bone, cartilage and adipose tissues. The surface modification of orthopedic materials is also being investigated to enhance osseointegration (bone integration). Peptide-conjugated homing molecules are being developed for cancer therapeutics (bone, breast, lung and brain cancers), osteoporosis, and also evaluated as biologics to inhibit/diminish injuries to tissues following exposure to radiation and chemotherapeutics.
An appropriate delivery and/or scaffolding system must be utilized to localize, deliver and protect incorporated biologics. Porous bioresorbable scaffolds mimicking bone architecture are fabricated in our polymer chemistry laboratory. Animal surgeries are performed at OHSU, a fully accredited Animal Care Facility (AALALAC), with supervision provided by veterinarians certified by the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine. The histology facility is equipped for soft (paraffin) and hard (methacrylate) tissue processing, immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. Portable x-ray equipment is available for radiometric analyses and a dedicated imaging system is utilized for computerized radio- and histomorphometry. Our laboratories also have a dedicated tissue culture facility, a multiplate reader, a fluorimeter, and equipment for assessing gene expression.
Additional Research Projects
One of the continuing challenges in treating peripheral nerve injuries is our inability to utilize non-invasive techniques to localize the injury. We are evaluating the use of high-frequency ultrasound as a useful technique for imaging peripheral nerve injuries and monitoring regenerative therapeutics. Efforts to develop minimally-invasive surgical approaches include the use of endoscopic mandibular fracture management techniques and the development of endoscopic methods to deliver cell, molecular and bone graft substitute materials. Lastly, biochemical and molecular monitoring of patients undergoing plastic surgery procedures are being undertaken to gain new insights into cell and tissue mechanisms that may maintain or potentially improve outcomes.