Research Laboratory

Current Research Activities

Various research projects continue to bring innovation and discovery in the areas of: wound repair, regeneration, growth factors, regenerative phenotype resulting in scarring and pressure ulcers. The laboratory continues its longstanding focus on the mechanisms of cutaneous wound repair and regeneration using porcine, rat, and mouse models. We continue to discover pivotal molecules responsible for impairments in human healing in acute burn injury, chronic wounds or other challenging wound healing conditions. We investigate pre-clinical and clinical settings with the goals of evoking more of a regenerative type of cutaneous repair that improves the final character of the reparative process. Also innovative devices are in development with collaborators within Vanderbilts biomedical engineering and chemical engineering faculty along with industry partners.

Wesley Thayer, MD, PhD. directs his efforts within the plastic surgery lab toward developing new techniques to repair injured peripheral nerves. He and his researchers (the staff, the plastic surgery fellow, a medical scholar and various medical students) are optimizing nerve regeneration procedures in the translational models. His work involves nerve regeneration through conduits and axonal fusion techniques. In collaboration with the Institute of Imaging Science, Dr. Thayers group is also analyzing nerve repair and regeneration with a developing MRI technology: Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI). DTI represents a potential diagnostic imaging tool for nerve injury, which has traditionally not been visualized due to the lack of imaging technology. Dr. Thayers research represents translational work, which is rapidly approaching introduction into clinical practice.

Research Facilities

The Plastic Surgery Research Laboratory is located in Medical Center North, adjacent to the Eskind Biomedical Library and Vanderbilt Hospital and Clinic. It consists of 1650 ft2 wet laboratory suite in S2210, S2213 that is outfitted for molecular, immunohistochemical and tissue culture equipment. The expansive office suite (800 sq ft) contains all the offices as well as supportive spaces and a small conference room for weekly lab meetings. The equipment includes Olympus Vanox-T AH-2 light microscope interfaced to Pixera Pro 600 HS digital camera with Image Pro-Plus software (Media Cybernetics). Dako automated immunostainer with 48 slide capacity, a Seymour Slide labeling system, Decloaker, humidity chambers, Tissue-Tek embedding center, Microm 325 microtome, histocollimator, ThermoShandon Cryostat, slide warmers, Stratagene Robocycler, Sorvall refrigerated centrifuge, Instron 5542 electromechanical testing system with 100N & 500N load cell capabilities, biological safety hood, 2 HeraCell incubators, a Stemi SV1/APO dissecting scope, a Zeiss inverted scope, an AD PowerLab instrument, micromanipulators, anesthesia machine, small animal surgical area, gel electrophoresis equipment for Southerns and westerns, UV light box, Thermix stirring/hotplate, Nikon light microscope, IKA tissue homogenizer, PureLab ultra water filtration system, microfuge, hot block, water bath, slide moat, vortex, pH meter, multiple ovens, fume hood, -80 freezer, -20 freezer, 2 refrigerators, isotemp Rotisserie incubator, incubators, surgical lamp, surgical table, and micro-instruments.

The S.R. Light Surgical Operating Suites are maintained by the Section of Surgical Sciences.  The facility occupies approximately 1900 sq. ft. and consists of an instrument room (195 sq.ft.), a pre-operative room (255 sq. ft.), a post-operative/recovery room (195 sq.ft.), an operating theater (1120 sq ft), and office and storage space (150 sq. ft.). The laboratory is staffed with 2 licensed full-time veterinary technicians. This laboratory meets all requirements of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, the National Institutes of Health, Department of Agriculture, American Association for Laboratory Animal Care and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. The facility and its management practices are inspected and/or reviewed on a regular basis. The large animal and small animal facilities are adjacent to these resources.