Basic science

Basic science research

Our basic scientific research focuses on the cellular and molecular basis for wound healing, scar formation and fibrosis. We also investigate the mechanisms that underpin systemic effects of burn injury on the individual. This work is aimed at long-term translation into better patient outcomes. 

As we understand more about the impact of the burn injury and the processes that drive scar formation we can design better interventions that will transform clinical practice.

  • Dr Mark Fear 

    Mark is a Senior Scientist at the Fiona Wood Foundation and Associate Professor at the Burns Institute Research Unit, UWA. 

    Since graduating in 1996, Mark has been involved in scientific research at North Western University in Chicago, the University of London, and the University of Western Australia.

    Mark’s research focus since 2006 has been on wound healing, scar formation, and ways to improve outcomes for burn patients.

    Connect with Mark |

  • Dr Andrew Stevenson 

    Andrew Stevenson is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Western Australia. His work focuses on the basic biology of scars and the cells within them, specifically a type of cell called the fibroblast. 

    Andrew is investigating these cells using a technique called "single cell RNA sequencing", which is a new technology that allows him to look at individual scar cells in very high resolution.

    This technique will be used to provide a clearer picture of what is actually going on within scar tissue, find and find whether there are certain cell types "driving" scar formation. This information will then be used to design interventions to guide the regeneration of normal, healthy tissue.   

    Connect with Andrew | 

    Nicole Hortin - Laboratory Manager

    Nikki manages the laboratory ensuring equipment and supplies are available for the range of projects. Nikki is also a key support person conducting research experiments to assist PhD students and Postdoctoral researchers across the team. Nikki manages the biobanking of clinical samples, working together with the clinical team to build this valuable resource.

  • Nutan Chaudhari - PhD Candidate

    Nutan is a PhD student at the Burn Injury Research Unit at the University of Western Australia. Her PhD project involves the development of novel therapeutics for the treatment of scarring and skin fibrosis. Her project is in collaboration with an industry where they developed a mechanism-based Lysyl Oxidase inhibitor which inhibits the collagen crosslink process in scar formation. The project will now lead to the Phase I clinical trials for anti-scarring treatment. 


    Zhenjun Deng - PhD Candidate

    Zhenjun Deng’s PhD project is focused on the role of cell and extracellular interactions in the pathology of keloids and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

    She also works on investigating the dysregulated genes in keloids and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis via bioinformatic analysis of RNA sequencing.


    Blair Johnson - PhD Candidate

    Blair is a PhD student at the University of Western Australia with an interest in burns as a chronic disease. His research covers two focus areas: the long-term effect of burn injuries on the immune system, and the long term effect on platelet function. Our current understanding of burn injuries suggests that the injury results in a sustained shift in the immune system that can manifest as a range of diseases in subsequent years.

    Blair's approach involves the collection and analysis of complex datasets to determine how the immune cells in burn survivors are different from those without injury. His work with platelets aims to understand how burns affect platelet reactivity and whether this contributes to post-burn cardiovascular disease risk.

    Amira Allaham - PhD Candidate

    Amira is a PhD student at the University of Western Australia studying the effect of burn injuries on the brain and mental health. Previous studies have shown an increase in the rate of mental health issues including depression and anxiety following burn injuries. This increase is likely associated with the inflammatory response accompanying burns. 

    Amira's research uses animal models to look at the effects of burn injuries on behaviour and inflammation in the brain and relates it to mental health issues in humans. Her research also covers the changes in the biodiversity of gut bacteria following burns as it is likely related to the changes in the brain through the gut's neural pathways. Amira's work aims to understand the factors associated with the development of mental health issues following burns and therefore help in their prevention and treatment. 

    Tylah Miles - PhD Candidate

    Tylah Miles is a PhD student at the University of Western Australia. Her research focuses on idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a debilitating and terminal lung disease with limited treatment options available to patients. 

    Tylah is investigating how immune cells and fibroblasts behave in response to stress signals released from damaged airway cells and how this regulates lung scaring. We hope that in time, identifying how these cells contribute to IPF will lead to the discovery of potential novel therapeutic targets.

    Nichola Foster - PhD Candidate

    Nichola is a PhD student at The University of Notre Dame. Her PhD project explores a rare, yet devastating complication of burn injury called Heterotopic Ossification (HO). The study series aims to describe the prevalence of traumatic HO and identify common clinical risk factors associated with HO formation. This research will foster the development of novel diagnostic technologies and prophylactic interventions to prevent and/or ameliorate this devastating complication after trauma. Collaborating with Burns Centres in Victoria and NSW, her project involves the analysis of blood and tissue samples from known HO sufferers to identify the cellular and molecular events that are specific to HO formation following burn trauma.

    • Exploring the Heterogeneity of Keloid Fibroblast.

    • Investigating the mechanisms of burn-injury induced immune system dysfunction using mouse models of burn injury, cancer and infection.

    • Biobank and Biomarker studies - longitudinal collection of hair, blood, urine and stool so we can study the systemic and physiological changes that result from a burn injury.

    • Burn Injury and Immune Dysfunction - Efficacy of vaccines in burn patients.

    • Burn Injury and Platelet Dysfunction.

    • The effect of burn injury on Central Nervous System.

    • Development of Lysyl oxidase enzyme inhibitors for treatment of scarring and skin fibrosis.

    • Exploring the roles of extracellular matrix and cellular dysfunction in driving skin and pulmonary fibrosis.

    • An exploration into the phenotypes of heterogeneous populations of scar fibroblasts.

    • Burns, mental health and circadian rhythm.

    • Impact of Matrix stiffness on Dupuytren's Contracture.

    • Immune Regulation of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis.

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