Project Description

James D. Fisher, MD, PhD


James Fisher was born and raised in Pittsburgh PA, with strong blue-collar ties to the region. Dr. Fisher completed his undergraduate degree in Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering. During this time he gained his initial exposure to translational benchtop research while working in the laboratory of Dr. William J. Federspiel at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Upon completion of his undergraduate studies, Dr. Fisher enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh’s Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP), where he pursued both an MD in the School of Medicine and a PhD in the School of Engineering. Dr. Fisher completed his PhD thesis in the laboratory of Steven R. Little in the Department of Bioengineering and was co-mentored by Dr. Mario G. Solari in the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. The focus of Dr. Fisher’s thesis was on local enrichment of suppressive Regulator T Cells (Treg) using biomimetic microparticles in the context of Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation. Throughout his graduate studies, Dr. Fisher was able to secure a $1.25M dollar Department of Defense grant to study these therapies in preclinical studies. In addition to his scholastic pursuits, Dr. Fisher also worked part-time as a clinical bioengineer for UPMC’s Artificial Heart Program throughout medical school and graduate school. In addition to his clinical duties at the Artificial Heart Program Dr. Fisher served as an expert LVAD consultant for the UPMC spinout Procirca and was also Flight LVAD Engineer with STAT MedEvac serving the Pittsburgh region. Dr. Fisher is incredibly excited to continue his journey as a Surgeon-Scientist with the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Plastic Surgery as an integrated resident.

Why Pitt?

The University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Plastic Surgery has a rich and storied history of producing and training leaders and innovators both clinically and in the laboratory. The clinical volume that residents are exposed to impressive, we work at three Level 1 Trauma Centers, a VA hub as well as several smaller hospitals in the area. Given the fact that I plan on running my own translational research laboratory in the future, I also wanted to train at a program that would foster and support academic, entrepreneurial, and research pursuits.


Robert Langer Student Travel Grant for the Controlled Release Foundation

1st Place Winner, Pitt Health Innovation Case Competition

Best Basic Science Paper, University of Pittsburgh Department of Plastic Surgery Resident Research Day

Best Overall Paper, Ohio Valley Society of Plastic Surgeons 56th Annual Meeting

Best Basic Science Paper, 60th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Robert H. Ivy Society of Plastic Surgeons

Society for Biomaterials Student Travel Award Recognition (STAR) Honorable Mention


Fisher JD, Zhang W, Balmert SC, Aral MA, Acharya AP, Kulachi Y, Jingjing L, Turnquist HR, Thomson AW, Solari MG, Gorantla VS, Little SR. In Situ Recruitment of Regulatory T Cells Promotes Donor-Specific Tolerance in Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation. Science Advances 2020 Mar 13; 6(11).

Fisher JD, Zhang WZ, Balmert SC, Schweizer R, Schnider J, Komatsu C, Erbas VE, Unadkat JV, Aral MA, Acharya AP, Kulahci Y, Thomson AW, Solari MG, Gorantla VS, Little SR. Local Administration of Regulatory T Cell Inducing Microparticles Promote Donor Antigen Specific Tolerance in Experimental Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation. The Proceedings of the National Academy of the United States of America, 2019 Dec 17; 116(51) 25784-26787.

Fisher JD, Acharya AP, Little SR. Micro and Nanoparticle Drug Delivery Systems for Preventing
Allotransplant Rejection, Clinical Immunology, 2015 Sep;160(1):24-35.

Areas of Interest

Microsurgery, Wound Healing, Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation, Biomaterials, Drug Delivery, Medical Devices, Tissue Engineering, Innovation/Entrepreneurship