Dr Leila Cuttle is animated as she describes the path that has led her to become the head of burns laboratory research at the Centre for Children’s Health Research in Brisbane.
‘For me it crystallised very early. I had always wanted to be doing science which helped people. But it wasn’t until I started working with burn clinicians at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital that I could see there was so much that could be done to improve the health of children with burn injuries. By working at QUT’s Centre for Children’s Health Research led by Professor Geoff Cleghorn (see transcript), I’m right next door to the children’s hospital and I can directly interact with the children affected by burn injuries.
Her face changes and she becomes quiet. “The impact of a serious burn on a child and their family is huge. It can be life-changing and the sense of guilt and psychological burden cannot be underestimated. If we can make a positive difference to that then for me, there can be nothing more satisfying.”
Leila works with a team of researchers looking into the role of blister fluid in burns and whether it advances or deters the healing process.
The importance of taking a holistic approach to the treatment of burns lies at the heart of the QUT team’s work and they collaborate closely with peers in psychology, nursing, mathematics and creative industries.
From bench to bedside:
Leila is keen to emphasise this is not purely academic. It is very much routed in the real world, and the team spends several hours every week in the wards of the neighbouring Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital.
“Through talking with patients, carers and the hospital staff we continue to evolve our research to reflect lived experiences. Prevention is of course ideal, and education and public awareness is critical.
“We are currently working with an app called ‘Cool Runnings’ – which will promote the importance of 20 minutes of cool running water straight after a burn has occurred.
Many people think ice is the best option, but in fact the danger is you end up with frost bite, which is equally detrimental for skin.
Real health for me is just that; using your expertise to collaborate with peers and make a difference to the real experiences and challenges facing people every day. For me there is nothing more inspiring than seeing the impact of your work in such a setting as the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital.
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Study at QUT
Find out more about the School of Biomedical Sciences at QUT.
Centre for Children’s Health Research
Find out more about the Centre for Children’s Health Research (CCHR), Queensland’s first fully integrated research facility focused on child and adolescent health research and services
The Real World
Visit Coolburns for burn treatment information and more.