My big dream …

By Rebecca Bodman | Mar 15, 12 11:00 AM

Professor Fiona Wood is our Adelaide brekky guest

Summarise what your big dream is all about. How do you want to 'change the world'?

Can we think ourselves whole?

Can we learn how to use the information locked in the brain to drive repair after injury by linkage the brain to the healing tissue.

I see suffering on a daily basis; people's lives changed in an instant by the devastation of burn injury, all too often children. It was a child I met as a young surgeon in training in 1985 which struck me as I looked at the scarring from surviving a scald I asked myself  - why can't we heal better than this? A scar is more than skin deep it can reduce our ability to move and function physically before we even begin to count the psychological cost. Since then I have been driven to purse the vision of scar less healing and to ensure the quality of the outcome is worth the pain of survival.

What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges so far in realising your dream – and how have you overcome them?

The greatest obstacle has been, and continues to be, the funding for the research. We have been supported by the generosity of individuals and some major groups to this point. A significant amount of our time is ensuring we have the funds to support our researchers so that we can push forward adding to the body of knowledge that one day will radically change the way we think about healing.

To this end we established the McComb Burns Research Foundation, an independent not-for-profit charitable entity, to facilitate research into all aspects of burn injury and scar less healing. It was named in honor of Harold Mc Comb, a Plastic and Reconstructive surgeon, who inspired us because of this determination to improve clinical care.

And in the future....?

We have pieces of a very complex jigsaw we now need to put together exploring the associations of the body's ability to heal and regenerate not scar, which may have implications beyond wound healing into areas such as cancer research.

To overcome the challenges of the future we need to escalate the successes of our history and engage and collaborate even more widely. By supporting our work it will be possible to change lives.

When it feels tough, what do you do to get through the difficult times?

I see suffering on a daily basis ... however tough it feels for me, that is a reality check. Inspiration comes from many sources if we look for it. I draw inspiration from those around me, patients, fellow health carers, fellow researchers, all focused on recovery.

What have been your biggest achievements, turning points or milestones so far in achieving your vision?

As I look back over the last 20 years as the Director of the Burns Service of Western Australia, I see many highlights.  Most notable, from a public perspective, being the spray on skin cell story and the disaster response work done at the time of the Bali bombing. But everyday there will be a milestone achieved by a patient walking, healing, going home, the efforts of education being realised, a paper published.   

Finish this sentence. “If My Big Dream becomes a reality, I would ….”

then explore how we can use what we have learnt to treat burn sufferers across the globe to continually strive to ensure the quality of the outcome is worth the pain of survival.

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