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Fiona Wood

Fiona WoodOf Winthrop Professor Fiona Wood’s journey to influence burn care in Australia and elsewhere around the world, one thing can be said, it has not been easy. The admiration for Fiona humbly accepts today is built on hard work, determination and lateral thinking which was demonstrated during her training and early years of medical practice. The innovation that changed Fiona’s life, however, relates to her desire to save time and in doing so, save the lives of burn patients. Fiona Wood realised that the faster we heal a burn wound, the less scar tissue is formed and the faster a patient recovers in all systems. So, Fiona’s roller coaster journey picked up speed with her exercising her influence on the speed of making a patient’s skin cells available in burn wound surgery. Together with Marie Stoner, Prof Wood kept pushing the barrier of science to find novel techniques to speed up skin cell growth and delivery of said cells to the burn wound. Her journey started with taking a patient’s own skin cells to grow into a sheet and be reapplied as a skin graft by three weeks after injury; to spraying on clumps of skin cells in surgery just five days after admission; to the current day where spray on cells takes just 40 minutes and is completed in surgery which can occur as early as two to three days post-injury. The challenges that Prof Wood faced, apart from being considered a heretic by her peers, was trying to fund her innovations and development of her ideas. She overcame this through her own funds and careful management of the intellectual property rights for her brainwaves. However, the journey does not stop there. Fiona continues to integrate her cell technologies with other innovations and enlists collaborators who may have ideas which assist in finding her utopia – burn wound regeneration or scarless healing. Finding the pathways to influence and effect reassembly of the body, guided by the mind and nervous system is where she journeys into the future. Many of the pieces of the future are here now, Fiona hopes to find the right combination to influence burn injury across the spectrum.