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Fiona Wood

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Dr Fiona Wood

Professor Fiona Wood - 2012 Imagine Cup Announcement (5692389134).jpg
Wood speaking at the Microsoft Australia Imagine Cup 2012 announcement in Sydney
Fiona Melanie Wood

(1958-02-02) 2 February 1958 (age 61)
Yorkshire, England
OccupationPlastic surgeon
Known forSpray-on skin
Spouse(s)Tony Kierath

Fiona Melanie Wood AM FAHMS (born 2 February 1958) is an English-born plastic surgeon working in Perth, Western Australia. She is the director of the Royal Perth Hospital burns unit and the Western Australia Burns Service. In addition, Wood is also a clinical professor with the School of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Western Australia and director of the McComb Research Foundation.

Early life and career

Wood was born in Yorkshire, England, and attended Ackworth School near Pontefract, West Yorkshire. She was athletic as a child and hoped for a career as an Olympic sprinter, before training at a university and then St Thomas's Hospital Medical School in London, graduating from there in 1981.[1] Wood worked at a major British hospital before marrying Western Australian born surgeon Tony Kierath and migrating to Perth with their first two children in 1987. She completed her training in plastic surgery between having four more children.

In October 2002, Wood was propelled into the 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 2 and 92 per cent body burns, deadly infections and delayed shock.

She was named a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2003.[2] She was named Australian of the Year[3] for 2005 by Australian Prime Minister John Howard at a ceremony in Canberra to mark Australia Day.

In March 2007, following the crash landing of Garuda Indonesia Flight 200, Wood travelled to Yogyakarta, to assist in the emergency medical response for burn victims.[4] Wood was voted the most-trusted Australian in a Reader's Digest poll for six successive years from 2005 to 2010.[5]

She is an Australian Living Treasure. In 2005, Wood won the Western Australia Citizen of the Year award for her contribution to Medicine in the field of burns research.

In 2006, she attracted criticism for publicly endorsing the drug brand "Nurofen". The profits from this endorsement went to the McComb Foundation, of which she was the chairwoman. The Australian Medical Association subsequently advised doctors against "endorsement of therapeutic goods". Wood later said of the endorsement that she "would not explore it again because I believe the negative perception outweighs the gain … I believe it was a mistake for me personally".[6]

In 2015 Wood was elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences.[7]

"Spray-on" skin

Wood has become well known for her patented invention of spray-on skin for burn victims, a treatment which is being continually developed. Where previous techniques of skin culturing required 21 days to produce enough cells to cover major burns, Wood has reduced the period to five days. Through research, she found that scarring is greatly reduced if replacement skin could be provided within 10 days. As a burns specialist the Holy Grail for Wood is "scarless woundless healing".[8]

Wood started a company called Clinical Cell Culture (C3) to commercialise the procedure. Her business came about after a schoolteacher arrived at Royal Perth Hospital in 1992 with petrol burns to 90% of his body. Wood turned to the emerging US-invented technology of cultured skin to save his life, working nights in a laboratory along with scientist Marie Stoner. The two women began to explore tissue engineering. They moved from growing skin sheets to spraying skin cells; earning a worldwide reputation as pioneers in their field. The company started operating in 1993 and now cultures small biopsies into bigger volumes of skin cell suspensions in as few as five days. This service is used by surgeons in Sydney, Auckland and Birmingham. Cells can be delivered via aircraft and ready for use the next day in many cases. Royalties from licensing will be ploughed back into a research fund, named the McComb Foundation.[9]

As well as receiving much praise from both her own patients and the media, she also attracted controversy among other burns surgeons because spray-on skin had not yet been subjected to clinical trials.[10][11] A clinical trial is planned at Queen Victoria Hospital, England.[12]


  1. ^ "Fiona wood". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 13 February 2009.
  2. ^ Science World 3 Third Edition 2006/ second reprint
  3. ^ Lewis, Wendy (2010). Australians of the Year. Pier 9 Press. ISBN 978-1-74196-809-5.
  4. ^ Cohen, David (17 March 2007). "The skilled hands that will soothe a painful recovery". The Age. p. 8. Burns specialist Fiona Wood, whose team treated the victims of the 2002 Bali bombings, flew to Indonesia to see the survivors and their burns.
  5. ^ "Dr Fiona Wood, Australia's most trusted person... again". National Australia Day Council. 16 July 2010. Retrieved 6 April 2011.
  6. ^ Nader, Carol (5 December 2006). "Top doctor rues advertising drug for children". The Age. Retrieved 9 June 2010.
  7. ^ "Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences" (PDF). Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. June 2019. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  8. ^ "Australian of the Year: 2005 Award". National Australia Day Council. Archived from the original on 20 November 2010. Retrieved 9 February 2009.
  9. ^ "Spray on Skin". Biotechnology Innovation. Retrieved 9 February 2009.
  10. ^ Dennis, C (July 2005). "Spray-on skin: hard graft". Nature. 436 (7048): 166–7. doi:10.1038/436166a. PMID 16015298.
  11. ^ "Jury still out over 'spray-on skin'". The Age. 28 January 2005. Retrieved 9 February 2009.
  12. ^ "Spray-on cells treat severe burns". BBC News. 5 September 2005. Retrieved 9 February 2009.

External links