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Burns Unit Research

Burns Unit at Concord Hospital, a specialist referral centre is part of the NSW Statewide Severe Burn Injury Service servicing the entire State of New South Wales for adults with burn injuries and other skin loss conditions. Our Unit is well equipped with purposely designed patient care facilities, surgical theatre, and a state-of-art clinical cell culture GMP clean room, laser treatment clinic and a burn research laboratory. Our multi-disciplinary clinical team that is renowned for providing world-class clinical care in treating severe burns.  

Our unit is affiliated with University of Sydney Medical School. We have a well-established research team to carry out clinical and laboratory research projects to solve the problems we come across in patient care. 

Our research team is committed to the development of cell therapies and engineered skin substitutes as alternatives for deep burn care. The research involves in generating various biological scaffolds using bio-degradable matrix proteins and synthetic polymers that are biologically compatible, safe and suitable for skin cells to attach and grow. The bio-scaffold could facilitate the repair and regeneration of the damaged dermal tissue and the engineering of living skin substitutes with skin structures comparable to normal human skin.

We are also involved in fundamental burn research including wound healing, wound infection, scarring and wound contraction, nutritional and hormonal regulation of burn wound healing. In addition to laboratory-based projects, our clinical research team carry out various research on important issues in burn and reconstructive surgery; burn wound care; management of burn wound scarring and contraction, dermal angiogenesis; cell therapies for skin regeneration; rehabilitation and allied health issues post severe burn injury, and burn epidemiology and prevention.

Burns and Reconstructive Surgery Laboratory
(ANZAC Research Institute)

The group researches all aspects of Burn Care and specialises in tissue engineering of 3-dimensional skin substitutes for severe burns patients. Cultured Epithelium Autografts (CEA) is a well-established technique to create large numbers of skin cell for resurfacing of wounds. Unfortunately, these cultured cells do not have the same physical properties as normal human skin cells as they are missing the interaction with deeper tissue layers.

Our laboratory is committed to improve the cultured skin autograft technology by developing three-dimensional dermal substitutes and skin equivalents for treating deep burn wounds. Using technologies including tissue culture, cell biology, molecular biology and cellular and tissue engineering, we have been trying to produce different biological scaffolds that are biologically compatible, safe and suitable for skin cells to attach and grow. The scaffold could be used for repairing the damaged dermal bed or for engineering autologous skin substitute with skin structures comparable to normal human skin, which includes epidermis, dermal components, pigment cells and microvascular vessels under laboratory conditions. The research and development of tissue-engineered scaffold, dermal and skin equivalents will benefit not only the burns patients but also the patients with other skin defects such as chronic, diabetic and pressure skin ulcers.

Our Research Team

Professor Peter Maitz Director of Burns Unit
Associate Professor Peter Haertsch Burns / Plastics Surgeon
Dr Justine Ohara Burns / Plastics Surgeon
Associate Professor Zhe Li Chief Scientist
Dr Nicola Clayton Senior Speech Pathologist
Dr Frank Li Senior Physiotherapist
Dr Joanneke Maitz Clinician, Group Lead Burns and Reconstructive Surgery Research
Caroline Nicholls Senior Dietitian
Miranda Pye Clinical Nurse Practitioner
Jessica Dolan Nursing Manager
Sue Taggart Clinical Nurse Consultant
Monica Oana Ditu Burns Theatre Coordinator, Clinical Nurse Specialist
Megan Brady Clinical Nurse Specialist
Kate Nieuwendyk Scientific Officer
Ally Boyling  Postdoctoral researcher
Aiken Dao Postdoctoral researcher
Lara Alfiero Research staff

Our Research Projects

Investigation of thermos-responsive hydrogel, TetraMatrix for multiple medical applications in burn injuries and reconstructive surgery
K Tsai, K Gohil, A Fathi, T Abrams, S Maleknia, P Maitz, J Maitz
Development of electrospun scaffolds encapsulating botulinum toxin to prevent post-burn scarring
J Maitz, K Tsai, P Maitz
Rejuvenating patients’ skin cells to improve wound healing and scarring in burn injuries and reconstructive surgery
J Maitz, A Cutrupi, G Perez-Siles, K Tsai, M Kennerson, P Maitz
A Randomised Multi - Centred Trial to Evaluate Efficacy and Safety of Cultured Epithelial Autografts (CEA) in Combination with a Meshed (4:1) Split Skin Graft (SSG) after Debridement of a Burn Wound
P Maitz, Z Li, K Neuwendyk, J Harvey, J Vandervord, A Phoon, S Taggard, P Kennedy
A Clinical Evaluation of Efficacy and Safety of Cultured Epithelial Autograft (CEA) Suspension Applied to a Donor Site on a Burn Injured Patient 
P Maitz, P Kennedy, Z Li , S Taggart, T Leong, K Nieuwendyk
Skin Repair: Tissue Engineering using Synthetic Elastin 
J Rnjak, Z Li, P Maitz, AS Weiss
Identifying the Diffusible Factor(s) Produced by Skin Cells Grown on Tropoelastin Scaffolds 
J Almine, Z Li, P Maitz, AS Weiss
Skin Cell Culture on Hollow Fibre-Collagen Scaffold 
C Shu, M Lord, C McFarland, P Maitz, Z Li
Skin Tissue Engineering Using a Biodegradable Polymer 
Y Wang, D Martínez Tobón, A Taylor, P Maitz, Z Li
Efficacy and Safety of Engineered Skin Substitute and Dressing Materials on Skin Wound Healing: A Mouse Model Study 
Y Wang, K Neuwiendyk, J Rnjak, P Maitz and Z Li
Quality Assessment of Meshed Skin Graft Temporally Stored at 4°C 
Z Li, P Maitz, C Overend, J Ledgard, K Kennedy
Biofilm and Infection of Burn Wound 
P Kennedy, S Brammah, E Wills

Selected Grants

Amount awarded Grant and project details
US $599,253 USA Department of Defence/Military Burn Research Program, 2022-2025
Antimicrobial peptide - selenium nanoparticle dressings to enhance burn wound healing and prevent antimicrobial resistant infection.
Investigators: Maitz P, O'Connor A, Li Z
$223,320 CDMRP (DoD) – Project, 2022-27
Antimicrobial peptide - selenium nanoparticle dressings to enhance burn wound healing and prevent antimicrobial resistant infections.
Investigators: O'Conner, Maitz, O'Brien-Simpson, Heath, Farrugia, Li
$10,000  Sydney Research – Annual Health Research Infrastructure Award Scholarship, 2023
Neon Transfection System.
Investigators: Maitz J
$8000 Sydney Local Health District Allied Health, 2023
Project ECHOE: Exploring Cross-Disciplinary Health Outcomes using Expiratory Muscle Strength Training
Investigators: Henderson O, Clayton NA, Maher A, David K, Loustau S, Pepe S, Riley N, Costanzo V, Wylie J
$8000 Sydney Local Health District Allied Health, 2023
Development and feasibility trial of a co-designed guideline to enable communication using inline one-way speaking valves with ventilated tracheostomy patients
Investigators: Walker E, Norman E, Freeman-Sanderson A, Clayton NA

Our Publications


Barry NP, Jackson SR, D'Jamirze A, Gates RJ, Maitz PKM, Issler-Fisher A. Cold burns as a result of cosmetic cryolipolysis: An emerging concern from the NSW Statewide Burn Injury Service. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2023 Jan;76:289-291. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2022.10.053. Epub 2022 Nov 2.
Clayton NA, Walker E, Freeman-Sanderson A. Clinical profile and recovery pattern of dysphagia in the COVID-19 patient: A prospective observational cohort within NSW. Aust Crit Care. 2023 Mar;36(2):262-268. doi: 10.1016/j.aucc.2022.01.001. Epub 2022 Jan 14.
Goodarzi MR, Breakey WF, van de Lande LS, Borghi A, O'Hara J, Ong J, James G, Hayward R, Schievano S, Dunaway DJ, Jeelani NO. Does the Mutation Type Affect the Response to Cranial Vault Expansion in Children With Apert Syndrome? J Craniofac Surg. 2023 May 1;34(3):910-913. doi: 10.1097/SCS.0000000000009126. Epub 2022 Nov 18.
Gunawardena DA, Stanley E, Issler-Fisher AC. Understanding Neural Factors in Burn-related Pruritus and Neuropathic Pain. J Burn Care Res. 2023 Sep 7;44(5):1182-1188. doi: 10.1093/jbcr/irad021.
Hardingham N, Ward E, Clayton N, Gallagher R. Acute Swallowing Outcomes After Surgical Resection of Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancers With the Mandibular Lingual Release Approach. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2023 Aug;169(2):286-293. doi: 10.1177/01945998221123925. Epub 2023 Jan 29.
Hardingham NM, Ward EC, Clayton NA, Gallagher RA. Does the mandibular lingual release approach impact post-operative swallowing in patients with oral cavity and/or oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas: a scoping review. Speech, Language and Hearing, 2023. 26(2): 120-129. DOI: 10.1080/2050571X.2022.2064114.
Issler-Fisher AC. The importance of biomechanics and the kinetic chains of human movement in the development and treatment of burn scars - A narrative review with illustrative cases. Burns. 2023 May;49(3):707-715. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2022.08.010. Epub 2022 Aug 28.
Luo G, Maitz PKM, Wang Y. Role of microbiome, microenvironment and novel drug delivery system in the wound healing. Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2023 Jul;198:114873. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2023.114873. Epub 2023 May 15.
Maitz J, Merlino J, Rizzo S, McKew G, Maitz P. Burn wound infections microbiome and novel approaches using therapeutic microorganisms in burn wound infection control. Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2023 May;196:114769. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2023.114769. Epub 2023 Mar 14.
Ponraj R, Clayton NA, Ryan H. Masked communication: impact of a purpose-built communication training-program to enhance communication-effectiveness. Journal of Clinical Practice in Speech-Language Pathology. 2023; 25(1) 3-11.
Ross SW, Malcolm J, Maitz J, Li Z, Wang Y, Issler-Fisher AC. Fractional ablative laser therapy for the treatment of severe burn scars: A pilot study of the underlying mechanisms. Burns. 2023 May;49(3):573-582. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2022.12.017. Epub 2023 Jan 2.
Stynes G, Haertsch P, O'Hara J, Knight R, Issler-Fisher AC, Maitz PKM. Alginate Dressings Continuously for 14 Days on Uncontaminated, Superficial, Partial Thickness Burns. J Burn Care Res. 2023 Jul 5;44(4):905-911. doi: 10.1093/jbcr/irac143.
Tsai KH, Shi H, Parungao RJ, Naficy S, Ding X, Ding X, Hew JJ, Wang X, Chrzanowski W, Lavery GG, Li Z, Issler-Fisher AC, Chen J, Tan Q, Maitz PK, Cooper MS, Wang Y. Skin 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 enzyme expression regulates burn wound healing and can be targeted to modify scar characteristics. Burns Trauma. 2023 Jan 20;11:tkac052. doi: 10.1093/burnst/tkac052. eCollection 2023.
Wallace ES, Clayton N, Freeman-Sanderson A, Miles A. In the thick of it: A commentary on the strength of evidence for thickened fluids. Int J Speech Lang Pathol. 2023 Dec 10:1-5. doi: 10.1080/17549507.2023.2287429. Online ahead of print.
White A, van de Lande LS, O'Hara J, Hartley J, Hayward R, James G, Jeelani NO, Dunaway DJ. Frontofacial Surgery: Reducing Infection with the Development and 6-Year Outcome of a Frontofacial Protocol. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2023 Oct 1;152(4):833-840. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000010442. Epub 2023 Mar 21.
Zhang C, Li Z, Wang J, Yao Y, Li H, Fu X. Editorial: Role of stem cell derivatives in inflammatory diseases. Front Immunol. 2023 Aug 31;14:1275068. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2023.1275068. eCollection 2023.