Welsh Government
Specialty lead awarded prestigious scholarship to form international research collaboration

Specialty lead awarded prestigious scholarship to form international research collaboration

14 June 2019

Health and Care Research Wales’ specialty lead for surgery, Professor Iain Whitaker, has been awarded a prestigious scholarship to form a research collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

The American Association of Plastic Surgeons (AAPS) and European Association of Plastic Surgeons (EURAPS) Academic Scholarship is awarded to surgeons working in the field of plastic and reconstructive surgery.

Professor Whitaker, who is the chair of plastic surgery at Swansea University Medical School and an NHS consultant based at The Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery, is the first person in the UK to receive the two year research award.

“This scholarship is based around the 3D bioprinting and tissue engineering research we’re doing, to help reconstruct facial deformities,” explained Professor Whitaker.

“These are the type of technologies that have been acknowledged as having the ability to transform the future.

“3D printing is one of the four futures of surgery selected by the Royal College of Surgeons and tissue engineering is also one of the UK government’s key research funding priorities, alongside technologies like robotics.

“It just shows how topical and impactful the research we’re doing is, and how Wales is leading the way.”

The AAPS and EURAPS are the world’s leading bodies in the field of plastic surgery. Professor Whitaker believes this scholarship will have great long-term benefits.

“Collaborating with the large laboratory at Harvard, which has a good track record in cartilage tissue engineering, will allow me and the research group to spend time with top level scientists and clinicians, helping us to share knowledge and ideas across the Atlantic.

“It will certainly increase the profile of Swansea, and Wales as a whole, having these international research links, and there will be opportunities to encourage American students and clinicians to also come to Wales to see what we have to offer.”

Professor Whitaker has recently been appointed as Health and Care Research Wales’ specialty lead for surgery, 2019-2021.

Joint interim director of Health and Care Research Wales, Michael Bowdery, said:

“This scholarship is fantastic news for Professor Whitaker and his team, and, indeed, for research in Wales.

“On behalf of Health and Care Research Wales I’d like to congratulate Iain on his achievement. This international collaboration will help develop truly groundbreaking technology that could have real impact on people’s lives, not just here in Wales but around the world.”