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Research-Laboratory at the Univ.-Clinics for Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, Innsbruck


The ISO-9001:2008 certified research unit of the Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery was established in 2012, enabling dedicated doctoral researches to follow clinical goals on sound scientific basis. Our vision is to apply basic research techniques to address clinical challenges and translate these findings into new therapeutic approaches.

Labor Structure

We are localized in the 1st floor of the “Frauen Kopf Klinik” Building (Building #3 at the LKH-Innsbruck Campus, 3-G1-643). Three research groups equivalent to the 3 major units of the Department, ie. the units for Breast/Limb/Nerve-Surgery, Congenital Deformities – Reconstructive Surgery and Wound management/healing are supported by the research laboratory unit headed by C.Ploner, PhD.


  • Priv. Doz. Christian Ploner, PhD (Head)
  • Susanne Lobenwein, MsC (BMA)
  • Dolores Wolfram, MD, MsC
  • Evi Morandi, MD, PhD
  • Philip Grubwieser, cand. Med.



  • Patrick Feurle, MsC (2012)
  • Ralph Verstappen, MD (bis 2013)
  • Giuseppe Cappellano, PhD (2016/17)


Currently no vacancies!


Focus of the RESEARCH-Laboratory (Ploner Group)

Clinical success is based not only on first-class (micro) surgical performance, but also on targeted scientific work in the laboratory. In the clinic's own research laboratory of the Univ.-Klinik for plastic, reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery Innsbruck (Head: Priv. Doz. Christian Ploner, PhD.) successfully pursues application- and future-oriented research.

  • FAT and Woundhealing
  • Stem cell applications (fat stem cells)

FAT and wound healing

We aim to define the role of adipocytes and regenerative cells in the wound healing process of acute and chronic cutaneous wounds. Based on analysis of primary wound tissue, we established human 2D and 3D in-vitro (wound-) models, mimicking certain aspects of cellular behavior in inflammatory environments.  Especially we focus on how matrix signaling affects cell fate on regenerative adipose derived stem cells and adipocytes, as well as elucidate the impact of paracrine factors of activated immune cells on these cell types regarding cellular plasticity and metabolism. Applying these models we are also testing the bioactivity of new compounds actually tested for the treatment of chronic wounds as well as assess the biocompatibility of implant surfaces.


Despite great advances in tissue-engineering of the skin, impaired wound healing still remains one of the most serious problems in plastic surgery.  We are primarily interested in defining mechanisms of (chronic) wound healing, especially delineating the role of the fat tissue in this complex cellular interplay. Disesteemed for many years as tissue exclusively dedicated to energy storage, the white adipose tissue (WAT) has become one of the most studied tissues as recent reports uncovered its metabolic and endocrine functions in-vivo as well as its importance for the development of metabolic disorders, control of immune response and wound healing. In addition, fat tissue harbors a high number of easily accessible, undifferentiated adipose derived stem cells (ADSC) that are actually tested in clinical applications, including wound healing approaches. However, isolated transplantation of these cells in wound beddings only marginally enhanced the healing process, and cells embedded in engineered matrices stayed entrapped and impacts on wound healing rather by secretory action than by proliferation or differentiation. Therefore we initiated a project focusing on wound matrix controlled molecular processes affecting the regenerative potential of distinct cutaneous (keratinocytes, fibroblasts) and subcutaneous cell types (adipocytes, ADSC).

Actually we are working on a project dissecting the role of anti- and proinflammatory cytokines regulating ADSC-ECM interaction and adipocyte function intending to define those parameters that a) control cell fate in an inflammatory environment and b) enables those cells to withstand cell death inducing signals promoted by these cytokines.

A clinical PhD program is offered ("applied morphology and regeneration"-AMR) . 

Universitätsklinik für Plastische, Rekonstruktive und Ästhetische Chirurgie Innsbruck | Anichstrasse 35, A-6020 Innsbruck
Tel.: +43 (0) 512 504 22731, Fax: +43 (0) 512 504 22735