The confluence of biomedical science and plastic surgery has the ability to revolutionize the treatment of patients with wide-ranging reconstructive requirements following trauma, cancer, burns, and congenital anomalies. Surgeon scientists are ideally positioned to recognize the potential of basic scientific discoveries and illuminate novel therapeutics that will enhance tomorrow’s surgical solutions.1 Plastic surgeon scientists offer a unique perspective and skill set. By marrying the specialty’s longstanding tradition of innovation2 with its inextricable scientific links to fields such as developmental and regenerative biology, there is great scope for these individuals to transform current treatment strategies in plastic surgery. Furthermore, the specialty’s ability to improve healthcare by successfully blending laboratory advancements with insights from bioengineering, nanotechnology, and biomaterials will be heavily reliant on having a cohort of scientifically trained plastic surgeons participating in interdisciplinary translational research. A cadre of such surgeon scientists will be pivotal to securing the specialty’s place at the forefront of applied regenerative medicine.
There is currently a paucity of plastic surgeon scientists leading impactful translational scientific research studies globally. A facility fostering international collaboration between these clinician scientists would be a necessary and invaluable asset, which would undoubtedly accelerate transformative health research. Such an initiative will further enhance the global plastic surgery research base, and inspire and support the next generation of plastic surgery translationalists.3
The Plastic Surgery Research Network (www.plasticsurgeryresearch.net) is a unique opportunity for plastic surgery. As the world’s first online community for plastic surgeon scientists, it seeks to capitalize on synergies between clinicians, scientists, life sciences industry partners, and patients at the center of care, to help overcome current barriers to the timely translation of biomedical research.4,5
The Plastic Surgery Research Network website is a virtual environment for interdisciplinary research efforts surrounding tissue reconstruction and regeneration, featuring 12 innovative elements to foster collaborative research (Fig. 1). Most crucially, the Plastic Surgery Research Network will nurture an interactive global community by providing dynamic research-centric resources, currently not widely available to plastic surgery researchers. The biomedical research digest, interdisciplinary discussion fora, and globalized laboratory and funding directories (Table 1) will enable aspiring surgeon scientists to stay abreast of scientific advancements in the field, identify potential collaborators, acquire research training, and secure funding. With these features, the Plastic Surgery Research Network holds enormous potential to strengthen connections between plastic surgeon scientists and those from allied disciplines, to enable global translational research collaborations that will revolutionize patient care in plastic surgery.
The launch of the Plastic Surgery Research Network allows users to join the growing online community free of charge while the network is under construction on Drupal (www.drupal.org), an open-source content management platform. Drupal’s core system and extensive modular library provides an ideal basis for efficiently deploying the Plastic Surgery Research Network community functionality, including membership accounts, collaboration tools, searchable discussion fora, customized directories, secure data exchange and management facilities. As a pioneering network in plastic surgery, the Plastic Surgery Research Network serves as a prelude to a global clinician scientist network. We envisage an exciting future ahead and urge the plastic surgery community to join us.
Morteza Jalali is the founder and chief executive officer of the Plastic Surgery Research Network (www.plasticsurgeryresearch.net).
Morteza Jalali, M.B., Ch.B.(Manc.)
Anne McLaren Laboratory for Regenerative Medicine
Wellcome Trust-Medical Research Council
Cambridge Stem Cell Institute
Department of Surgery
School of Clinical Medicine
University of Cambridge
Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
John Radcliffe Hospital
Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and
Medical Sciences Division
University of Oxford
Oxford, United Kingdom
Francesca Saldanha, M.B., B.Chir.(Cantab.), M.A., B.A.(Cantab.)
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, Mass., and
The Healing Foundation Centre
Faculty of Life Sciences
University of Manchester
Manchester, United Kingdom
1. Jalali M, Kirkpatrick WN, Cameron MG, Pauklin S, Vallier L.. Human stem cells for craniomaxillofacial reconstruction. Stem Cells Dev. 2014;23:1437–1451
2. Rohrich RJ, Rosen J, Longaker MT.. So you want to be an innovator? Plast Reconstr Surg. 2010;126:1107–1109
3. Saldanha FY, Winterton RI, Jalali M.. Towards a global plastic surgery research network. Eur J Plast Surg. 2014;37:633–634
4. California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). . Engineering strategies, opportunities, and challenges for tissue repair and regenerationCIRM Workshop Summary and RecommendationsJanuary 12–13, 2012San Francisco, Calif
5. Madry H, Alini M, Stoddart MJ, Evans C, Miclau T, Steiner S.. Barriers and strategies for the clinical translation of advanced orthopaedic tissue engineering protocols. Eur Cell Mater. 2014;27:17–21; discussion 21
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