Plastic Surgery Research Council
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Primary Lab Contact
Name Benjamin Levi
Title Director Laboratory, Assistant Professor in Surgery
Phone 847-571-6511

Laboratory Burn/Wound and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory
Lab Location 1150 W. Medical Center Drive 3328 Medical Science Building 1 - SPC 5677
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Lab Category Tissue Engineering
Wound Healing
Other: Stem Cell and Bone Biology
General Lab Setup Our laboratory is organized with a senior scientist, a technician, 1-2 surgery residents and 1-2 medical students. We collaborate closely with several other plastic surgery and orthopedic surgery laboratories adjacent to our space.
Lab Facilities The Burn/Trauma and Regenerative Medicine laboratory (Directed by Dr. Benjamin Levi) consists of 1000 square feet of recently updated research space located on the first floor of the MSRB within the research campus. Immediately adjacent to the laboratory is 1000 square feet of common use areas which is used for shared equipment. A walk-in cold room and darkroom are immediately adjacent. The laboratory is located within the same building as the Vector/Gene Therapy Core, Transgenic Animal Core, DNA sequencing Core, DNA Synthesis Core and the central animal facility. The Burn/Wound and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory itself is completely equipped for tissue culture, small animal surgery, and molecular biology. The Laboratory is located approximately 150 yards from the University Hospital, where the Burn/Wound and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory, Burn Center and operating rooms are located. The research buildings are directly connected by indoor walkways with the hospital. Additionally, we have space in the newly build Basic Science Research Building which is across the street and houses our imaging core for MicroCT, MicroMRI and IVIS imaging. In addition, Dr. Wang, a key member of the laboratory oversees the Morphomics Analysis Group which has over 3000 square feed of space dedicated to human CT and mouse micro-CT reconstruction and analysis. This space allows state for the art reformatting and novel methodologies to analyze mouse tissue characteristics including bone.
Animal Facility Yes (Mouse, Rat and Pig)
Type of Research 1. Heterotopic Ossification: Early diagnosis and Prevention strategies As many as 65% of our severely combat-injured service members will go on to develop heterotopic ossification (HO), a musculoskeletal disorder characterized by the formation of mature bone in soft tissues including muscle, tendon, ligaments and fascia. As a complication of trauma, HO presents the most important barrier to functional recovery and independence. Furthermore, over 60% of civilian major burn patients and over 50% of joint replacement surgery patients develop HO, with risks that only increase after subsequent operations. The pervasive nature of HO extending across several tissue types suggests that treatment directed to a specific tissue may be ineffective, whereas therapy directed towards centrally acting pathways may be more effective. Once bone forms around a joint, patients develop debilitating joint contractures and loss of mobility. Surgical excision of HO can be attempted to restore function, but patients with periarticular HO rarely regain complete range of motion, with contractures due to persistent or recurring HO. Current medical strategies to prevent de novo or recurrent HO including glucocorticoids, bisphosphonates, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications either have significant side effects and/or uncertain impact, possibly because they fail to target key pathways involved in HO formation. In addition to effective therapies, methods of identifying potential HO patients prior to radiographic diagnosis are needed to target early intervention to a population that is likely to benefit. Given the burden of HO disease in these populations, its high morbidity and suboptimal treatments, there is substantial need for early diagnosis and therapy to inhibit HO by targeting its causative processes. The goal of this research is to change the treatment paradigm of HO from delayed diagnosis and resection to early detection and prevention. 2. Bone Tissue Engineering Alloplastic bone substitutes are prone to infection and inflammation, while autogenous bone grafts are limited in availability and create a donor-site defect. Thus, there is a significant need for readily available autogenous tissue which can aid in bone regeneration without resulting in a donor-site defect. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate the role of ALK2, a BMP type I receptor, as a novel target to 1) improve in vitro mesenchymal stem cell osteogenic differentiation and 2) enhance in vivo bone regeneration and calvarial healing. 3. Allograft Survival Cadaveric allotransplantation offers a promising option for reconstruction in patients with extremity burns and mutilating trauma. However, rejection of transplanted tissues (e.g. skin, hand, or arm) presents a significant clinical barrier to allograft survival. Lymph nodes are a known site of alloantigen presentation, an important step in the development of rejection. The extremities are particularly amenable to interventions involving lymph nodes due to their consistent lymphatic drainage patterns. The goal of the proposed project is to target the sentinel lymph node basin as a method to delay or completely mitigate the immune rejection of an extremity allograft. We will also characterize additional surgical and therapeutic measures which may further modulate this response. 4. Stem Cell and Developmental Biology. In addition to trying to better understand the key pathways involved in ectopic bone formation and bone healing, we are also working to isolate the progenitor cells responsible for these processes.
1. Investigator's Name Levi Laboratory Members

Opportunity for Student Degree Program Yes  
Research Fellowship Available Yes
Funding Available For research supplies and experiments
Educational or Prior Experience Requirements MD or PhD