Professor Janet Lord

Refreshed Research Strategy

“Scar free healing within a generation…that’s what we’re about. Trying to understand the scarring process and, in doing so, prevent it.”

Professor Janet Lord, Principal Investigator, The Scar Free Foundation Centre for Conflict Wound Research, Birmingham.

Since rebranding as The Scar Free Foundation in 2016, we have supported a wide range of new research which addresses our mission; to achieve scar free healing within a generation. We have overseen the establishment of The Scar Free Foundation Centre for Conflict Wound Research, our innovative programme of wound healing research at the University of Bristol and our pioneering programme of facial reconstruction research at Swansea University. In addition, we have funded a suite of new burns projects and small-scale Elective projects for undergraduates. Our Cleft Gene Bank and Cohort Study which has been running for 10 years, reached its target recruitment of 10,000 participants earlier this year, and is yielding exciting research outputs. We have much to be proud of, not least the fact that all of our research successfully navigated the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Not wishing to rest on our laurels, in 2021 we started to think about what we are going to do next.

It is vital for medical research charities to regularly revisit their strategies to ensure that their priorities are pertinent to people with a lived experience of the condition they are focussed on. Addressing the needs of people with a lived experience of scarring, and those encountering it in the future, are central to our activities. Last year, five years after the launch of our scar free research strategy, we undertook a refresh exercise to ensure that our research priorities are clear, relevant and achievable. We will use this refreshed strategy as the basis of the areas of research we will look to support in the next 10 years.

We have worked with world class researchers, clinicians, scientists and, of course, our Ambassadors to create a refreshed research strategy. Answering these three questions will help us achieve our mission of scar free healing.

We still have much to learn about wound healing and the way scars form. Improving our knowledge of the cellular processes of wound healing, and how a person’s genes can affect this process, will mean that in the future we will be able to intervene in the healing process to stop scars forming in the first place.

Until we are able to stop scars forming, we need to do everything we can to prevent wounds from becoming scars in the first place. We are interested in supporting research that improves the treatment of people who have received a wound, whether that be a burn, a traumatic injury or a wound sustained through the treatment of cancer, for example. We hope new treatments will include new dressings and medicines which help promote effective wound healing.

For some people, the impact of their scarring is life-long. Scars can affect appearance, the way people are able to use their bodies and also emotional wellbeing and self-esteem. We are committed to funding research that addresses these issues and enables people living with scars to live full lives.

For further information about our research questions and how we plan to answer them, please visit our new research strategy website.