Dr. Chen Wins Sarnat Award

January 5, 2022

Dr. Kellen Chen has received the Bernard G. Sarnat, MD, Excellence in Grant Writing Award for basic science from the Plastic Surgery Foundation. Chen received the Translational and Innovation Research Grant this past summer for his project "Improving Cosmetics and Function of Skin Grafting by Blocking Mechanotransduction." 

"Scars of the skin affect millions of patients worldwide, and cause a great deal of suffering, particularly in children and burn victims," said Chen. "Wounds healed using split-thickness skin grafting (STSG) suffer from several disadvantages including fragility, abnormal pigmentation, altered sensitivity, and lack of skin appendages such as hair."

Chen's project will build upon laboratory and preclinical animal findings that demonstrate pharmacological inhibition of the focal adhesion kinase (FAK) pathway significantly reduces scar formation while accelerating healing of deep dermal injury. Chen will investigate whether FAK inhibitor treatment via a therapeutic hydrogel dressing is effective in decreasing scar formation after STSG.

"In addition, we aim to uncover the molecular and cellular background underlying the beneficial effects clinically observed after FAKI treatment of scars by analyzing the transcriptional changes of wound cell populations over time using Single-Cell RNA sequencing," said Chen.

Fellow Division of Plastic Surgery researcher Dr. Paige Fox received the Sarnat award in 2020 for her project titled: Topical Antibiotic Elution in a Collagen Rich Hydrogel for Chronic Wound Healing.