H&N Microsurgery and Craniofacial Trauma Research Fellowship

The University of Pittsburgh Reconstructive Surgery team has a long history of pioneering advanced reconstructive techniques to restore form and function. The Departments of Plastic Surgery and Otolaryngology have recently merged to create an integrated H&N Microsurgery and Craniofacial Trauma service. This team now performs 100% of the H&N microsurgery and over 2/3rds of the acute and secondary craniofacial trauma reconstruction at a high-volume center. This expansion has created unique educational and research opportunities. We have a fulltime research coordinator who facilitates research projects and manages our prospective and retrospective H&N microsurgery database. A similar database for craniofacial trauma is underway. These databases are easily cross-referenced with our other departmental databases such as the tumor registry and H&N Cancer Survivorship Clinic. This new infrastructure facilitates high level research capable of introducing new technologies and practice patterns into the field.


The University of Pittsburgh H&N Microsurgery and Craniofacial Trauma Research Fellowship is intended for individuals training for a career in plastic surgery or otolaryngology. Senior medical students, surgical residents, and trained plastic surgeons or otolaryngologists interested in H&N microsurgery or craniofacial trauma are welcome to apply.

Position Description and Goals

University of Pittsburgh H&N Microsurgery and Craniofacial Trauma Research Fellowship is a predominantly clinical research fellowship focused on patient outcomes and integrating new technologies and clinical care paradigms into practice. There is also the opportunity to engage in cadaver and survey studies. The H&N Craniofacial Trauma and Microsurgery Division has a dedicated, fulltime research coordinator. This person manages IRB protocols, mines the data bases for specific projects, and facilitates the organization and execution of all projects. The research fellow may select from multiple active projects, proposed projects that have not been initiated, and/or develop new ideas. There are three primary research faculty, of which at least one will be the senior advisor on a given project. The fellow may be the lead on a project where the expectation is 1st authorship on a manuscript or take a supportive role on another fellow’s or resident’s project with commensurate authorship. There is an abundance of research opportunities with support at all levels to see the projects to completion. The fellow is expected to complete a minimum of two 1st authorship publications and a presentation at a national meeting, though the resources exist to be far more productive. Upon completion of the fellowship the fellow will not only have expertise in the topic of their research projects but will know how to develop new ideas, formulate hypotheses, navigate institutional regulatory oversight, review the literature, gather and analyze data, and complete and submit manuscripts. The overarching goal is to provide the fellow with the tools necessary to improve their own practice and contribute to the fields of H&N reconstruction and craniofacial trauma through sound research practices.

Areas of Focus

The University of Pittsburgh H&N Microsurgery and Craniofacial Trauma Research Fellowship has a focus on H&N microvascular reconstruction, acute craniofacial trauma, and secondary reconstruction after cancer or trauma. Active lines of research include:

  • Outcomes in H&N microvascular reconstruction
  • Outcomes related to virtual surgical planning (VSP) and computer assisted design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) in vascularized bone reconstruction
  • Improvements on exiting VSP protocols including tumor mapping, cutting guide variations, adaptation of new surgical techniques, and merging other imaging modalities.
  • Outcomes in craniofacial trauma
  • Virtual fracture reduction and associated clinical pathways for 3D printed dental splints and models for acute fractures



The fellow will attend weekly meetings with Dr. Solari (Wednesday mornings) where research progress is discussed, and any administrative issues are reviewed. There is also a biweekly research meeting where all projects are discussed with the primary research faculty (Dr. Solari, Dr. Sridharan, Dr. Kubik). The research coordinator and any residents or fellows involved in research are in attendance. The fellow will meet individually with the senior faculty investigator on each project as needed. The fellow will present his work at the Department of Plastic Surgery Research Day in June, and at least one regional and national meeting of an appropriate Otolaryngology or Plastic Surgery Society.


A formal framework of the educational activities is described below. Each project will involve background research/reading which the senior faculty on each project will delineate.

H&N Recon planning conference. This is a weekly 1h conference where all microvascular reconstruction cases for the following week are discussed. This incorporates trainee education and clinical planning.

Grand Rounds. The fellow may attend either the Department of Plastic Surgery or Otolaryngology Grand Rounds every Wednesday morning.

H&N Free Flap Course. There is an annual two-day free flap course with didactics and cadaver dissections which the fellow will participate in.

Microsurgery training lab. A microsurgery training course is held in the Fall and Spring in our Temporal Bone Lab equipped with 13 training microscopes which the fellow will attend. The fellow will be able to sign out a microsurgery training kit and work independently or with other trainees as desired throughout the year.

Craniofacial Trauma Course. There is an annual craniofacial trauma course lead by Otolaryngology and Plastic Surgery faculty. This usually involves lectures, saw bones, and cadaver dissections/plating.

Optional: There are optional educational activities including enrolling in a formal University of Pittsburgh Biostatistics course if the fellow lacks this background, monthly journal clubs for the Departments of Plastic Surgery and Otolaryngology, and all other formal departmental and university educational events.


Fellowship Director- Mario Solari MD

Primary Research Faculty- Mark Kubik MD, Mario Solari MD, Shaum Sridharan MD

Secondary Research Faculty/collaborators- Richard Bauer DMD, MD, Jonas Johnson MD, Marci Nilsen PhD, RN, Eric Wang MD

For more information, please contact:

Matthew T. Bottegal
Program Coordinator
UPMC Head and Neck Reconstruction
University of Pittsburgh