Kacey G. Marra, PhD
Associate Professor of Surgery and Bioengineering

Dr. Marra is the Co-Director of the Adipose Stem Center, a member of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and a member of the Cellular and Molecular Pathology Graduate Training Program.

Office Location:
1655E BST
200 Lothrop Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Contact Information:
Office Telephone: 412-383-8924
Lab Telephone: 412-383-8939
Email: kgm5@pitt.edu


  • PhD - University of Pittsburgh, 1996

Research Interests

After earning her PhD in organic chemistry in 1996 from the University of Pittsburgh, she was a post-doctoral fellow for Elliot Chaikof at Emory University where they published four papers in the area of cardiovascular tissue engineering. Following four years as a research scientist at Carnegie Mellon University conducting bone tissue engineering research, Kacey became the director of Plastic Surgery Research at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Marra has a publication record of over 90 peer-reviewed articles in the area of tissue engineering, including a landmark paper that was among the first to examine the effects of adipose stem cells in peripheral nerve gaps. Her funding includes NIH, NSF, and DoD grants in the area of regenerative medicine. Dr. Marra was among the first to examine the effects of adipose-derived stem cells in peripheral nerve gaps (Cell Transplantation, 2009), and received world-wide attention for that work. Dr. Marra has presented or co-authored more than 400 abstracts in the area of tissue engineering, most of which involved the biology of adipose-derived stem cells and hydrogel development.

Awards and Honors

  • James Barrett Brown Award Finalist-sponsored by AAPS - 2008
  • PSEF Scientific Essay Contest, First Place (Co-Author) - 2008
  • Editorial Board Member, Annals of Plastic Surgery - 2009
  • Merit Award for Summer Research (Advisor) - 2009
    -sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Medical School
  • Editorial Board Member, Journal of Tissue Engineering - 2009
  • Emerging Female Scientist, Honorable Mention - 2010
    -sponsored by the Carnegie Science Center

Selected Publications

View Dr. Marra's publications on PubMed

  1. Gerlach, J.C.; Lin, Y.-C.; Brayfield, C.A.; Minteer, D.; Li, H.; Rubin, J.P.; Marra, K.G.* “Adipogenesis of Human Adipose-Derived Stem Cells within 3D Hollow Fiber-Based Bioreactors,” Tissue Engineering, Part C, 2012, 18(1):54-61.
  2. Marra, K.G.; Rubin, J.P.* "The Potential of Adipose-derived Stem Cells in Craniofacial Repair and Regeneration,” Birth Defects Research Part C: Embryo Today: Reviews, 2012, 96(1):95-7.
  3. Lin, Y.-C.; Ramadan, M.; Van Dyke, M.; Kokai, L.E.; Philips, B.J.; Rubin, J.P.; Marra, K.G.* “Keratin Gel Filler for Peripheral Nerve Repair in a Rodent Sciatic Nerve Injury Model,” Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 2012, 129(1):67-78.
  4. Philips, B.J.; Marra, K.G.; Rubin, J.P.* “Adipose Stem Cell-based Soft Tissue Regeneration,” Expert Opin. Biol. Ther., 2012, 12(2):155-63.
  5. Nectow, A.R.; Marra, K.G.; Kaplan, D.L.* “Biomaterials for the Development of Peripheral Nerve Guidance Conduits,” Tissue Eng, Part B, 2012, 18(1):40-50.
  6. Wada, T.; Ihunnah, C.A.; Gao, J.; Chai, X.; Zeng, S.; Philips, B.J.; Rubin, J.P.; Marra, K.G.; Xie, W.* “Estrogen Sulfotransferase Inhibits Adipocyte Differentiation,” Molecular Endocrinology, 2011, 25(9):1612-23.
  7. Smith, D. M.; Cooper, G. M.; Afifi, A.; Mooney, M. P.; Cray Jr, J. J.; Rubin, J. P.; Marra, K. G.; Losee , J. E.* “Regenerative Surgery in Cranioplasty Revisited: The Role of Adipose Derived Stem Cells and BMP-2,” Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 2011, 128(5):1053-60.
  8. Rubin, J. P.; Marra, K.G. “Soft Tissue Reconstruction,” Methods Mol. Bio. 2011, 702:395-400.
  9. Ghaznavi, A.M.; Kokai, L.E.; Lovett, M.L.; Kaplan, D.L.; Marra, K.G.* "Silk Fibroin Conduits: A Cellular and Functional Assessment of Peripheral Nerve Repair," Annals of Plastic Surgery, 2011, 66(3):273-279.
  10. Li, H.; Zimmerlin, L.; Marra, K.G.; Donnenberg, V.S.; Donnenberg, A.D.; Rubin, J.P.* “Adipogenic Potential of Adipose-derived Stem Cell Subpopulations,” Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 2011, 128(3):663-72.
  11. Tan, H.; Li, H.; Rubin, J.P.; Marra, K.G.* “Controlled Gelation and Degradation Rates of Injectable Hyaluronic Acid-based Hydrogels through a Double Crosslinking Strategy,” J. Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, 2011, 5(10):790-7.
  12. Lin, Y.-C.; Ramadan, M.; Hronik-Tupaj, M.; Kaplan, D.L.; Philips, B.J.; Sivak, W.; Rubin, J.P.; Marra, K.G. “Spatially Controlled Delivery of Neurotrophic Factors in Silk Fibroin-Based Nerve Conduits for Peripheral Nerve Repair,” Annals of Plastic Surgery, 2011, 67(2):147-55.
  13. Tan, H.; Rubin, J.P.; Marra, K.G.* " Direct Synthesis of Biodegradable Polysaccharide Derivative Hydrogels through Aqueous Diels-Alder Chemistry," Macromol. Rapid Comm., 2011, 32(12):905-11.
  14. Kokai, L.E.; Bourbeau, D.; Weber, D.; McAtee, J.L.; Marra, K.G.* “Sustained Growth Factor Delivery Promotes Axonal Regeneration in Long Gap Peripheral Nerve Repair,” Tissue Engineering, Part A, 2011, 17(9-10):1263-75.
  15. Cherubino, M.; Rubin, J.P.; Miljkovic, N.D.; Kelmendi-Doko, A.; Marra, K.G.* "Adipose-derived Stem Cells for Wound Healing Applications," Annals of Plastic Surgery, 2011, 66(2):210-215.
  16. Tan, H.; Rubin, J.P.; Marra, K.G.* “Injectable In Situ Forming Biodegradable Chitosan-hyaluronic Acid Based Hydrogels for Adipose Tissue Regeneration,” Organogenesis, 2010, 6(3):173-80.
  17. Choi (Kang), J.H.; Gimble, J.; Lee, K.; Marra, K.; Rubin, J.P.; Yoo, J.; Kaplan, D.L.* “Adipose Tissue Engineering for Soft Tissue Regeneration,” Tissue Eng. Part B, 2010, 16(4):413-426.
  18. Brayfield, C.A.; Marra, K.G.; Rubin, J.P.* “Adipose Tissue Regeneration,” Current Stem Cell Research and Therapy, 2010, 5(2):116-121.
  19. Du, Y.; Roh, D.S.; Funderburgh, M.L.; Mann, M.M.; Marra, K.G.; Rubin, J.P.; Li, X.; Funderburgh, J.L.* “Adipose-derived stem cells differentiate to keratocytes in vitro,” Mol. Vis. 2010, 16:2680-9.
  20. Rubin, J.P.;* Marra, K.G. “Commentary. Cell-assisted lipotransfer (CAL),” Aesthet. Surg. J. 2010, 30(1):78-81.
  21. Tan, H.; Marra, K.G.* “Injectable, Biodegradable Hydrogels for Tissue Engineering,” Materials, 2010, 3:1746-1767.
  22. Brayfield, C.A.; Marra, K.G.; Rubin, J.P.* “Adipose Stem Cells for Soft Tissue Regeneration,” Handchirurgie, Mikrochirurgie, Plastische Chirurgie, 2010, 42(2):124-128.
  23. Kokai, L.E.; Ghaznavi, A.M.; Marra, K.G.* “Incorporation of double-walled microspheres into polymer nerve guides for the sustained delivery of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor,” Biomaterials, 2010, 31(8):2313-2322.
  24. Tan, H.; DeFail, A.J.; Rubin, J.P.; Chu, C.R.; Marra, K.G.* “Novel Multi-arm PEG-based Hydrogels for Tissue Engineering,” J. Biomedical Materials Research, Part A, 2010, 92A(3): 979-987.
  25. Kokai, L.E.; Tan, H.; Jhunjhunwala, S.; Little, S.R.; Frank, J.; Marra, K.G.* “Protein Bioactivity and Polymer Orientation is Affected by Stabilizer Incorporation in Double-Walled Microspheres,” Journal of Controlled Release, 2010, 141:168-176.
  26. Kokai, L.E.; Lin, Y.-C.; Oyster, N.O.; Marra, K.G.* “Diffusion of Soluble Factors through Degradable Polymer Nerve Guides: Controlling Manufacturing Parameters,” Acta Biomaterialia, 2009, 5:2540-2550.
  27. Lima, E.; Tan, A.; Tai, T.; Marra, K.G.; DeFail, A.J.; Ateshian, G.A.; Hung, C.* “Genipin Enhances the Mechanical Properties of Tissue Engineered Cartilage and Protects Against Inflammatory Degradation When Used as a Medium Supplement,” J. Biomedical Materials Research, Part A, 2009, 91(3):692-700.
  28. Lin, Y.-C.; Tan, F.-J.; Marra, K.G.; Jan, S.-S.; Liu, D.C.* “Synthesis and characterization of collagen/hyaluronan/chitosan composite sponges for potential biomedical applications,” Acta Biomaterialia, 2009, 5(7):2591-600.
  29. Miljkovic, N.D.; Lin, Y.-C.; Cherubino, M.; Minteer, D.; Marra, K.G.* “A Novel Injectable Hydrogel in Combination with a Surgical Sealant in a Rat Osteochondral Defect Model,” Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy, 2009, 17(11):1326-1331.
  30. Tan, H.; Ramirez, C.M.; Miljkovic, N.D.; Li, H.; Rubin, J.P.; Marra, K.G.* “Thermosensitive injectable hyaluronic acid hydrogel for adipose tissue engineering,” Biomaterials, 2009, 30(36):6844-6853.
  31. Miljkovic, N.D.; Cooper, G.M.; Hott, S.L.; DiSalle, B.F.; Gawalt, E.S.; Smith, D.M.; McGowan, K.; Marra, K.G.* “Calcium Aluminate, RGD-Modified Calcium Aluminate, and β-Tricalcium Phosphate Implants in a Calvarial Defect,” J. Craniofacial Surgery, 2009, 20(5):1538-1543.
  32. Santiago, L.Y.; Clavijo-Alvarez, J.; Brayfield, C.; Rubin, J.P.; Marra, K.G.* "Delivery of Adipose-Derived Precursor Cells for Peripheral Nerve Repair," Cell Transplantation, 2009, 18(2):145-158.
  33. Tan, H.; Chu, C.R.; Payne, K.; Marra, K.G.* “Injectable In Situ Forming Biodegradable Chitosan-Hyaluronic acid Based Hydrogels for Cartilage Tissue Engineering,” Biomaterials, 2009, 30(13):2499-2506.
  34. Rubin, J.P.; DeFail, A.J.; Rajendran, N.; Marra, K.G.* “Encapsulation of Adipogenic Factors to Promote Differentiation of Adipose-derived Stem Cells,” J. Drug Targeting, 2009, 17(3):207-15.
  35. Lin, Y.-C.; Brayfield, C.A.; Gerlach, J.C.; Rubin, J.P.; Marra, K.G.* "Peptide Modification of Polyethersulfone Surfaces to Improve Adipose-derived Stem Cell Adhesion," Acta Biomaterialia, 2009, 5(5):1416-1424.
  36. Cherubino, M.; Marra, K.G.* "Adipose-derived Stem Cells for Soft Tissue Reconstruction," Regenerative Medicine, 2009, 4(1):109-17.
  37. Lee, W.-C.C.; Sepulveda, J.; Rubin, J.P.; Marra, K.G.* “Cardiomyogenic Differentiation Potential of Human Adipose Precursor Cells,” Int. J. Cardiology, 2009, 133(3):399-401.