A journey in burns research

Laboratory benches with bottles and reagents in use
With an interest in surgery, I was fortunate that Concord Clinical School offered several surgical MD supervisors and projects in 2014. I was especially lucky to be placed with the Concord burns team, one of three tertiary burns units in NSW, which has allowed me to develop my primary research capacities as well as my clinical and professional proficiencies.

As part of my MD project I was allocated the topic area ‘Negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT)’ and allowed free reign to explore what research question and format I wished to pursue. This open style forced me to develop, review, and re-develop my project from the ground up – a natural process in any form of primary research. The research journey over the last three years has been an incredible experience and has included drafting three research proposals, applying for and receiving animal ethics approval, animal handling and ethics training, additional lab work and training at the ANZAC Research Institute, development of a working murine (mouse) model as a pilot study, and testing of the NPWT device in this model.

Additionally, the MD Project and my links with the Concord burns team has afforded me other opportunities: assisting another MD student as second author on their systematic literature review, assisting the burns team as co-author of a review of burns therapies, attending a national conference on NPWT, forming relationships with research and clinical staff at Concord Hospital and the ANZAC Institute, and time in theatres assisting with acute burns surgery.

Having begun the MD process with zero experience in proposal writing, animal or lab work, I now feel confident to pursue these endeavours in my future career. I’m also thankful for the relationships I’ve formed as part of this process, and I have no doubt that they will be invaluable for whichever surgical career path I choose to take.

By Stuart Jackson, Stage 3 year 4 (2017)