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Research

The Duke Division of Plastic, Maxillofacial, and Oral Surgery has long been a powerhouse in reconstructive microsurgery and extremity salvage and continues to innovate in the field.

Current research efforts develop new techniques and devices to speed wound healing and improve outcomes for patients who need tissue transplant and other advanced reconstruction and repair.

Many of our discoveries have been applied to advance other specialties. In 1997, the North Carolina Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Society was founded by one of our division's faculty members.

Research Highlights

  • Division researchers are studying approaches to advance our understanding of vascularized composite allotransplantation (VCA) and to improve patient outcomes following hand transplantation.
  • The Frank Hawkins Kenan Plastic Surgery Research Laboratories have expertise in biomaterials, microencapsulation, biosensors, wound healing, and the tissue response to implanted devices.
  • Researchers studying the mechanisms of fibrosis and tissue remodeling aim to develop a novel small molecule inhibitor to prevent fibrocontractile disease progression.
  • The research program in skin regeneration and wound healing seeks to understand the mechanisms of skin regeneration in zebrafish to develop novel regenerative strategies for human wound healing and diseases of the skin.
  • Division researchers are studying the biology of adipose tissue obtained from mastectomies of women at high risk for breast cancer. Their research indicates that adipose tissue from high-risk patients secrete inflammatory factors that act on breast epithelial cells to promote breast cancer initiation and progression. The goal of these studies is to develop therapies that target adipose/epithelial biology in a manner that reduces breast cancer risk/mortality.
  • The Pediatric Craniomaxillofacial (Peds-CMF) Laboratory focuses on the study of anatomic and surgical aspects and outcomes related to various pediatric plastic surgical, craniofacial, and oral/maxillofacial conditions.
  • The DataLab utilizes epidemiology, research-design principles, biostatistics, and computational data-science methods. Our clinical focus is on health and health care related to pediatric conditions, particularly congenital anomalies that require complex, multidisciplinary care.
  • Division researchers have discovered methods to improve different types of implants, including glucose sensors for diabetic patients and a new generation of glaucoma drainage devices that have now received FDA approval and are being used by glaucoma patients.
  • The Duke Human Fresh Tissue Laboratory gives researchers in the Division of Plastic, Maxillofacial, and Oral Surgery opportunities to make unique contributions to human anatomic research.