Research and Scholarship

Although residents have no significant basic science research requirement, each resident in years 4, 5 and 6 is expected to complete one clinical research project per year to present at the annual Resident Research Day each June.

Optional research for a one- or two-year period in the plastic surgery laboratory is available. A resident's desire to do 1-2 years of research should be discussed prior to beginning training in the program. We strive for flexibility so residents are able to meet their personal career goals.

Plastic Surgery Residency Research

The faculty is committed to research and promoting scholarly activity among residents:

Ida K. Fox, MD, is interested in educational and clinical multidisciplinary research. She has developed and implemented an educational website (nervesurgery.wustl.edu) that provides comprehensive multimedia information on nerve repair and nerve transfer procedures. She is interested in how doctors learn with technology and, in particular, how cyberlearning can be used to teach surgeons new techniques. She is also interested in the study of the use of peripheral nerve transfers to restore volitional function of the hand in patients who are partial quadriplegics.

Susan Mackinnon, MD, has constantly evolving basic science, translational and clinical research occurring. In basic and translational research, Mackinnon has founded and is a principal investigator within the Peripheral Nerve Surgical Research Laboratories, a consortium of investigators with a common objective of investigating the pathology, mechanisms and current/prospective clinical treatments of peripheral nerve injury. The laboratories use animal models of peripheral nerve injury combined with surgical and experimental treatments to test prospective clinical treatments and provide insights into biological processes of nerve regeneration. The work has led directly to changes in the clinical treatment of patients with peripheral nerve injury and to new understanding of nerve regeneration. Currently, her lab is focused on the role of a novel cell discovered as part of nerve injury and regeneration: the senescent Schwann cell. Her work is supported by numerous grants including the NIH.

In clinical research, she is interested in poorly described patient outcomes from peripheral nerve surgeries, with an aim to optimize surgical technique. Several of Mackinnon’s clinical research projects also involve bettering the occupational environment for surgeons. Since 2016, she has published in the fields of pregnancy during residency, residency preparation for surgical cases, and accidently injury in the OR. There is also a study underway to evaluate posture-related upper extremity pain in surgeons. Other clinical research involves an initiative on subclinical and clinical peroneal neuropathy, as well as a 3-tiered initiative to address the opioid epidemic.

Amy Moore, MD, has numerous grants funding basic science peripheral nerve research. She is completing her Department of Defense (DOD) Peer-Reviewed Orthopedic Research Program (PRORP) grant entitled, "Macroscopic Management of Neuromas." In this study, she is evaluating the ability to “reset” nerve regeneration with a proximal nerve crush followed by inhibiting neuroma formation with the use of a long processed nerve allograft at the time of definitive amputation. In another study, she is also exploring ways to dampen the pain response after nerve injury.  Clinically, she has projects pertaining to hand infections, gunshot wounds, nerve transfers and nerve recovery after grafting.

Terence Myckatyn, MD, has research interests in clinical decision aids in breast reconstruction, outcomes of various interventions in breast reconstruction, and the development of enhanced recovery after surgery protocols. In addition, he is interested in the impact of biofilms on breast implants, their interaction with endogenous matrix proteins, and their potential association with capsular contracture and breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma. In aesthetic surgery, he has research interests in optimizing satisfaction with breast augmentation, the efficacy of noninvasive vaginal rejuvenation, and optimizing resident education. He also does research on the impact of inflammatory adipose-derived cytokines on metabolic disease. Dr. Myckatyn currently receives grant funding from the Siteman Cancer Center Investment Program, The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital, the Washington University Just In Time funding mechanism, the National Endowment for Plastic Surgery, the Aesthetic Surgery Education Research Foundation and several leading plastic surgery companies.

The lab of Alison Snyder-Warwick, MD, has received funding for multiple projects by the NIH, The Plastic Surgery Foundation, and the American Association of Plastic Surgeons; Dr. Snyder-Warwick is currently completing her NIH Career Development Award (K08). The Snyder-Warwick lab investigates the interface between nerve and muscle, the neuromuscular junction (NMJ). Specifically, they focus on terminal Schwann cells, which are the specialized glial cells located at the NMJ. The lab investigates the roles of terminal Schwann cells during development, disease, muscular reinnervation and aging. Their goals are to identify the mechanisms of terminal Schwann cell function that may be manipulated into novel translational applications for clinical management of patients with peripheral nerve pathology.

Marissa Tenenbaum, MD, focuses on facial clinical outcomes in cosmetic surgery as well as breast reconstruction. Dr. Tenenbaum’s current projects include the impact of tumor to breast ratio on patient-reported outcomes following breast conservation therapy versus mastectomy with reconstruction. Others investigate the impact of simulation on patient-reported outcomes in breast augmentation and incision choice in nipple-sparing mastectomy in prospective, randomized control trials.

Matthew Wood, PhD, investigates treatments for the surgical management of peripheral nerve injuries. His group is interested in understanding the limitations encountered by the current state of the field, where his group’s primary goal is the development of tissue-engineered and regenerative medicine approaches to augment reconstructive efforts. Wood is the director and a principal investigator within the Peripheral Nerve Surgical Research Laboratories, a consortium of investigators with a common objective of investigating the pathology, mechanisms and current/prospective clinical treatments of peripheral nerve injury. Currently, his lab is focused on improving and understanding the design of acellular nerve scaffolds to facilitate nerve regeneration across long nerve defects. His work is supported by grants from sources such as the Plastic Surgery Foundation, American Society for Surgery of the Hand, and the Hope Center for Neurological Disorders.

Thomas Tung, MD, runs an NIH-supported lab investigating composite tissue transplantation. He has developed a model of limb transplantation in the mouse and is studying the immunology of limb transplantation, nerve regeneration in the limb allograft, and the efficacy of costimulation blockade for the induction of tolerance.