Children's Hospital Burns Research

The Children's Hospital Burns Research Institute was formed in 2005 to build upon the strong reputation held by the Burns Unit at The Children's Hospital at Westmead for clinical excellence in the treatment of children with burns injury.

We seek to build upon this established clinical track record and introduce an exciting new element – clinical and laboratory based burns research.

Our group has pioneered the use of a new technique of Laser Doppler Imaging in predicting burn wound outcome in children. A laser light is used to determine flow beneath the wound and thus to predict its depth and inform treatment decisions. Recently, new equipment has been devised which enables the process to be completed in 5 seconds rather than 3 minutes. Studies into the usefulness of this technique are continuing.

Other work is looking at the role of fibrocyte cells in hypertrophic (thick, raised) scarring, and the molecular biological process which regulates burn wound healing.

In other areas, our research has confirmed the role of running water as the optimal burns first aid and treatment in children; determined the optimal time to graft a scald burn, and looked at long term clinical outcomes to determine the influence of time of healing on the development of a hypertrophic scar.

We are currently developing a new model of hypertrophic scarring to better assess current and new treatments of scarring, including the use of laser treatment.

General enquiries can be directed to the Clubbe Ward:

Current projects

Current Projects:

  • The influence of time of healing on the development of a hypertrophic scar
  • Determination of optimal time to graft a scald burn in an animal model
  • Development of a hypertrophic burn wound in an animal model
  • Role of fibrocytes in burn wound hypertrophic scarring

Previous research studies:

  • The role of fibrocytes and pro-inflammatory cytokines in predicting post-burn hypertrophic scarring in children study
  • Child Life Therapist for reducing stress and pain perception in children during routine burn wound dressing changes
  • Multi-centre, international evaluation of multi-channel Laser Doppler Imaging in predicting burn wound outcomes
  • Retrospective audit of impact of burn wound cultures and antibiotic prophylaxis prior to operative intervention
  • Randomised controlled trial of Versajet versus sharp surgical debridement for paediatric burns
  • Randomised controlled trial of Biobrane versus standard burns dressing for mid-dermal burns
  • Assessment of outcomes, costs and barriers to optimal burn care in Aboriginal children
  • Evaluation of the MEEK skin grafting system in children with major burn injuries
  • Retrospective reviews of contact and exhaust burn wound injuries in children
  • Prospective review of the incidence of hypertrophic scarring in children
  • Retrospective audit of burn injuries from hot noodles in children
  • Retrospective review of scalp wound burns in children
  • A review of chemical burns in children

The research team

> Clinical A/Professor John Harvey, Director of the Children’s Burns Unit & Burns Research Institute Co-founder

John Harvey has been a Paediatric Surgeon at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead since 1981. His interests include the introduction of laser therapy for burns scars, development of  formal training programs for surgical trainees, burns education programs in schools and the provision of burns care for the developing world. More information can be found on John's University of Sydney profile page

> Professor Andrew Holland, Professor of Paediatric Surgery

Andrew has over twenty years of postgraduate training and experience in surgery. His special areas of interest are in burns, trauma, neonatal and hypospadias surgery in children, with over 200 publications and presentations. He currently holds two NHMRC grants in burns and trauma research. Please visit Andrew's University of Sydney profile page for more information.

> Dr Erik La Hei, Specialist Paediatric and Burns Surgeon

Erik La Hei is a practising Paediatric Surgeon in both general surgery and burns, and has trained in The Netherlands, UK and Sydney.  His research concentrates on both the use of the Laser Doppler in children and the setting up of the porcine animal model of burns.

> Dr Torey Lawrence, Paediatric Surgeon

Dr Torey Lawrence is a practicing Paediatric Surgeon at The Children’s Hospital Westmead.  Her sub-speciality areas of interest include colorectal surgery, laparoscopic surgery and burns.  She has an interest in burns prevention and education as well as scar management and the cosmetic outcome and impact of burns scars.

> Other Research Team Members

  • Dr Sasi Suda, Burns PhD student
  • Dr Mitchell Nash, Burns Fellow
  • Sandra Spalding, Senior Social Worker
  • Cheri Templeton, Physio Burns Senior
  • Clair Toose, Physio Burns Senior
  • Stephanie Wicks, Physio Burns OPD/Clubbe
  • Deborah Maze, CNC Burns Inpatients
  • Kelly Waddell, Burns Nurse Practitioner
  • Madeleine Jacques, Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Christina Parkinson, Clinical Nurse Specialist

Key publications

Hyland EJ, D’Cruz R, Menon S, Chan Q, Harvey JG, Lawrence T, La Hei ER, Holland AJA (2015) Prospective, randomised controlled trial comparing Versajet™ hydrosurgery and conventional debridement of partial thickness paediatric burns. Burns 41: 700-7

Aikins K, Prasad N, Menon S, Harvey JG, Holland AJA (2015) Pediatric Burn Wound Impetigo following Grafting. J Burn Care Res 36: e41-6

 D’Cruz R, Pang T, Harvey JG, Holland AJA (2015) Chemical Burns in Children: Aetiology and Prevention. Burns 41: 764-9.

Hyland EJ, Maze D, Lawrence T, Harvey J, Holland AJ (2015) Biobrane™ and skin staples: beware of necrotic ulceration. Int Wound, in press

Hyland E, Harvey JG, Holland AJA (2015) Rural and metropolitan pediatric burns in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory: does distance make a difference? J Burn Care Res, in press

Holland AJA, Ward D, La Hei ER, Harvey JG (2014) Laser Doppler Line Scan Burn Imager (LDLS-BI): sideways move or a step ahead? Burns 40: 113-9

Liao AY, Andresen D, Martin HCO, Harvey JG, Holland AJA (2014) The infection risk of plastic wrap as an acute burns dressing. Burns 40: 443-5

Hyland EJ, Harvey JG, Holland AJA (2014) First aid for burns: too little, too late and often wrong.  Med J Aust 200: 85

Ofri A, Harvey JG, Holland AJA (2013) Pediatric upper aero-digestive and respiratory tract burns. Int J Burns Trauma 3: 209-13

D’Cruz R, Martin HCO, Holland AJA (2012) Medical management of paediatric burn injuries: best practice part 2. J Paediatr Child Health 49: e397-40