Center for Transplantation Sciences


Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation Laboratory

The Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation Laboratory in the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Transplantation Sciences (CTS)investigates the immunobiology of vascularized composite allografts with a primary focus on developing tolerance induction strategies in preclinical models.

The Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation Laboratory in the Center for Transplantation Sciences (CTS) at Massachusetts General Hospital investigates tolerance induction strategies for vascularized composite allografts (VCAs) in preclinical large animal models.

VCAs are an advanced method of tissue reconstruction for complex structures such as the nose, lips, ears and hands. However, risk for infection is very high. Our laboratory researches the use of mixed hematopoietic chimerism to induce transplantation tolerance of VCA. We also explore the immunologic mechanisms involved in tolerance and rejection of the skin component of VCA.

Our lab utilizes the immunogenetically-defined Mass General miniature swine model. This permits transplant studies across reproducible major histocompatibility complex (MHC) barriers in a preclinical large animal model and provides a unique model for investigation of cutaneous immunobiology in the context of transplantation. We have also recently established non-human primate VCA models in which we are investigating translational mixed chimerism protocols for VCA tolerance.

In addition, we have completed a three-year investigation, funded by the United States Department of Defense, of skin grafts from genetically modified (a-1,3-galactosyltransferase knockout) miniature swine for provision of temporary coverage of extensive, full thickness burn wounds. We have established industry collaborations to further this initiative toward clinical implementation.

Principal Investigator
Curtis L. Cetrulo, Jr., MD, FACS
Senior Investigator/Head, Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation Laboratory, Center for Transplantation Sciences (CTS)
Attending Plastic Surgeon, Massachusetts General Hospital
Consulting Plastic Surgeon, Shriners Hospitals for Children
Assistant Professor of Clinical Surgery, Harvard Medical School
View publications

Josef Kurtz, PhD

Research Fellows
Zhi Yang Ng, MBChB, MRCS

Research TechnicianMatt DeFazio
Zachary Heroux

Troy Ferreria
Wesley Insko

The Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation Laboratory leads the following projects:

  • Mechanisms of mixed chimerism-mediated Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation (VCA) tolerance in miniature swine
  • Factors influencing tolerance/rejection of epidermis in vascularized allotransplantation
  • Development of clinically relevant approaches to induction of VCA Tolerance in miniature swine
  • Delayed tolerance induction for VCA in non-human primates
  • Investigation of GalT-KO porcine skin grafts for temporary coverage of severe burn wounds (completed)

Gaining ground in limb replacement surgery

The first successful replantation of a human limb took place at the MGH in 1962. Now, nearly 50 years later, the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is in the process of reviewing potential candidates for the latest in medical advances – hand transplantation surgery.

Hand transplant is a first for Mass General

Massachusetts General Hospital's Curtis L. Cetrulo Jr., MD, leads Mass General’s first hand transplant operation.

Research could expand hand, face transplant availability

A procedure developed at the MGH to induce immune tolerance to organ transplants has now been shown to also induce tolerance to model tissue transplants in miniature swine.