Fiona Wood

Professor Fiona Wood is one of Australia’s most innovative and respected surgeons and researchers.

A highly skilled plastic and reconstructive surgeon and world leading burns specialist, she has pioneered research and technology development in burns medicine.

Early Career

It is here that she recognised that she wanted a career that combined research, innovation and surgery.

Why Burns

Professor Wood completed her medical training, with two key areas of focus – cleft palates and burns.

Spray on Skin

One of Fiona's early achievements was the development of a skin culture lab

World Events

Traumatic global events have increased the public’s knowledge of the importance of burns medicine.

Achievements

Professor Wood was awarded Member of the Order of Australia in 2003.

  • Born in the north of England, Professor Fiona Wood commenced her medical career at St Thomas’ Hospital Medical School in London, where she found herself drawn to plastic surgery and recognised that she wanted a career that combined research, innovation and surgery. She worked under the supervision of the plastic surgical team consultant, Mr. Brian Mayou, who would become one of the influential people in Professor Wood’s life.

    While working at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital, where she developed a strong interest and experience in congenital issues such as cleft palate, Professor Professor Wood’s curiosity was stimulated through exposure to many forms of scarring. She was accepted for a position at the Queen Victoria Hospital in Sussex, which had a burns unit, and so began the start of her lifelong dedication to burns medicine. 

    Professor Wood moved to Australia in 1987 and not long after sought out the late Harold McComb, a brilliant plastic surgeon and Founding Member of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. She describes him as, “an extraordinary man and an extraordinary plastic surgeon. He was always questioning the boundaries and looking to improve.” 

    Professor McComb was an inspirational person in Professor Wood’s life. The Fiona Wood Foundation was formerly known as the McComb Foundation (established in 1999).

    Professor Fiona Wood’s dedication to improving outcomes for burns patients and expanding the knowledge of wound healing began in 1991 when she became trained as West Australia’s first female plastic surgeon. Professor Wood’s ability to lead a team and direct innovation for future clinical care was recognised as she quickly became a leader in her field. She became the Director of the Burns Service of Western Australia at an early point in her career. In this position Professor Wood has led the Burns Service of Western Australia to be recognised internationally as a leader in burns care.    

  • Following on from her experiences at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital and the Queen Victoria Hospital in Sussex, Professor Wood completed her medical training in Australia, with two key areas of focus – cleft palates and burns. In the early 1990s she made the decision to focus on burns medicine and became the Director of the Burns Service of WA (BSWA) in 1991.

    Knowing that collaboration is the key to the best possible outcomes, Professor Wood set up teams who shared her quest for knowledge and the translation of research into bedside treatments. Professor Wood’s focus from the earliest days of her work in burns has been about the quality of the outcomes for burns survivors, believing that there is more that can be done to facilitate scarless healing, in mind, body and spirit.

  • One of Fiona's early achievements was the development of a skin culture lab that she co-founded with scientist Marie Stoner. Professor Wood and Marie recognised the potential of tissue engineering technology to treat burns (called cultural epithelial autograph or CEA) and in 1993 developed a skin culture facility with support from a Telethon grant. 

    Their product evolved from confluent sheets of CEA to aerosol-delivered cell-clusters and is today known as ‘spray-on skin’. Quite simply, healthy skin cells are cultured and sprayed onto the wound in very sterile conditions. The skin cells then grow on the individual. This technology, commercialised through Clinical Cell Culture Pty Ltd (now AvitaMedical), is a world-first and has been used on more than 1000 patients around the world..

    Professor Wood’s greatest contribution and enduring legacy is her work pioneering the innovative ‘spray-on skin’ technique (Recell), which greatly reduces permanent scarring in burns victims. 

    Professor Wood patented her method in 1993 and today the technique is used worldwide.

    Dr Fiona Wood on spray on skin (HD Video)

  • Traumatic global events have increased the public’s knowledge of the importance of burns medicine. Professor Wood and her team have been at the forefront of crisis response to various events. 

    In October 2002, Professor Wood was propelled into the international media spotlight when the largest proportion of survivors from the 2002 Bali bombings arrived at Royal Perth Hospital. She led a team working to save 28 patients suffering from between two and 92 per cent body burns, deadly infections, and delayed shock. This was a major operation involving four operating theatres, 19 surgeons and 130 medical staff who worked around the clock to not only save lives but to also improve the quality of life of the 25 survivors.

  • Fiona Wood has been a burns surgeon and researcher for over 20 years and is Director of the Burns Service of Western Australia (BSWA). She is a Consultant Plastic Surgeon at Fiona Stanley Hospital (previously at Royal Perth Hospital) and Perth Children's Hospital, co-founder of the first skin cell laboratory in WA, Winthrop Professor in the School of Surgery at The University of Western Australia, and co-founder of the Fiona Wood Foundation (formerly The McComb Foundation).

    Professor Wood was named a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2003. In 2003 and 2004 she won the Western Australia Citizen of the Year award for her contribution to Medicine in the field of burns research. Her contribution to burns care was recognised through Australia’s highest accolade when she was named Australian of the Year for 2005 by Australian Prime Minister John Howard at a ceremony in Canberra to mark Australia Day.

    She was voted Australia’s Most Trusted Person for six successive years (2005-2010) in a Reader's Digest poll and has been recognised as an ‘Australian Living Treasure’.

    In 2005 Professor Wood and Marie Stoner won the Clunies Ross Award (Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering) for their contribution to medical science in Australia.
     

  • Professor Fiona Wood - AM, FRCS, FRACS

    Fiona Wood has been a burns surgeon and researcher for over 30 years and is Director of the Burns Service of Western Australia (BSWA). She is a Consultant Plastic Surgeon at Fiona Stanley Hospital and Perth Children's Hospital; co-founder of the first skin cell laboratory in WA; Winthrop Professor in the School of Surgery at The University of Western Australia; and co-founder of the Fiona Wood Foundation (formerly The McComb Foundation).

    Professor Wood’s greatest contribution and enduring legacy is her work with co-inventor Marie Stoner, pioneering the innovative ‘spray-on skin’ technique (Recell), where today the technique is used worldwide.
    In October 2002, Fiona was propelled into the media spotlight when the largest proportion of survivors from the 2002 Bali bombings arrived in Perth where Fiona led the medical team at Royal Perth Hospital to save many lives.

    Fiona was named a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2003. In 2004 she was awarded the Western Australia Citizen of the Year award for her contribution to Medicine in the field of burns research. Fiona was then named Australian of the Year for 2005. She is an Australian Living Treasure. Fiona is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Science.

    Fiona is married to fellow surgeon Tony Kierath and is mother to four boys and two girls.

  • View Fiona's research repository

    Discover information about Fiona's grants, research output, activities, teaching and research.

    Click here

  • Established to build, test and evaluate community ideas generated on the iThink platform, launched by Deputy Premier Roger Cook in April 2020, the WA Innovation Hub enables connection between idea generators, business, government and acadamia, to generate new thinking and action. A unique innovation engine based soley on in-kind support and volunteer effort.

    Outcomes and impact are at the core, with activity guided by four key principles:

    • Build connection
    • Take action
    • Inspire new thinking
    • Empower people

    Fiona has been a key player from the inception and is on the Advisory Board.

    Read the latest report here.

    Connect | https://ithink.wa.gov.au/

     

Q&A Videos

Have you ever wondered what makes someone who has dedicated their life to improving the quality of life for others tick?

We’ve asked Professor Wood to chat to us about her life and her work.

Learn MoreQ&A Videos

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