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William G. Austen Jr., M.D.

William G. Austen Jr., M.D.

William G. Austen Jr., M.D., is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, routinely treating patients at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston. He is also chief of the division of plastic and reconstructive surgery and the chief of the division of burn surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Austen is also an associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Austen’s laboratory has continued to study factors affecting grafting and transfer of fat. Despite the ease and aesthetic appeal of autologous fat grafting in plastic and reconstructive surgery, the tendency of fat to reabsorb over a short time period poses a significant obstacle to the long-term viability of fat grafts. Prolonged viability of transplantable fat would be an obvious benefit to burn patients. In addition, Dr. Austen’s laboratory also investigates novel methods of skin rejuvenation. Dr. Austen has patented a new micro-mechanical device for skin rejuvenation that stimulates collagen growth, but with less morbidity and greater therapeutic effect compared with the fractional laser.

Most recently, Dr. Austen’s group pursued the application of a new therapeutic concept: photochemical tissue passivation (PTP). PTP has been shown to prevent full-thickness wound contracture in excisional wounds in mice. Wounds treated with PTP histologically demonstrate more mature structural organization than untreated wounds, and closely resemble native skin, a major need in pediatric burn patients.

Dr. Austen has published 100 journal articles in top tier journals such as Annals of Surgery, Journal of American Heart Association, and Journal of Burn Care & Research. He has written eight book chapters, given over 109 presentations and has 19 patent applications. Dr. Austen is a member of the American Burn Association, American Association of Plastic Surgeons, Society of University Surgeons and American College of Surgeons.

Dr. Austen is the recipient of the Robert B. Lindberg Award for Best Scientific Paper at the American Burn Association and was awarded paper of the year in 2015 by the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal. He is a five-time winner of the Joseph E. Murray Award, for Best Presentation at the New England Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Current positions:

  • Medical Staff, Shriners Hospitals for Children — Boston
  • Chief, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Chief, Division of Burn Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Associate Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School
Education/training:
  • BA, Art History, Princeton University
  • M.D., Harvard Medical School

Scholarly activities: