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Simon Weston opens research centre offering future hope to burns survivors

13 Sep 2007

Falklands war veteran and burns survivor Simon Weston, OBE, will today officially open a major research Centre at The University of Manchester, dedicated to improving treatments for survivors of burns, trauma and other disfiguring conditions.

The Healing Foundation Centre at The University of Manchester is a 25-year, £10 million initiative between the University and the Healing Foundation, a national charity supporting research into disfigurement and visible loss of function.  The Centre, led by the Healing Foundation Professor of Tissue Regeneration, Enrique Amaya, will focus attention on the amazing 'regenerative' abilities of frogs, salamanders, zebra fish and animal embryos, to learn how certain animal models are able to repair wounds without scars or, in some cases, regenerate amputated limbs.  It is hoped that these lessons can then be used to benefit future human survivors of trauma, disease or congenital deformity.

As lead ambassador for the Healing Foundation, Simon Weston - who survived major burns when the Sir Galahad was bombed, off the Falklands, 25 years ago - will also open a 'tissue regeneration' scientific symposium at the University.  Experts from around the world will be presenting papers over two days on various aspects of regenerative medicine and wound healing research.

Commenting on the work of the Centre, Simon Weston said: "I am proud to be involved at the start of such an exciting initiative.  The Healing Foundation is a unique charity, striving to improve the lives of people living with disfigurements through research. Our partnership with the University of Manchester is set, in time, to bring remarkable improvements to the bedsides of patients who survive burns, accidents or disease."

Professor Amaya said: "Over the next two days, we will be hearing from some of the world's leaders in the area of tissue regeneration and wound healing about some of the most exciting advances in this area. I am delighted that Simon Weston is joining us to celebrate this and the opening of the Healing Foundation Centre."

Notes for editors

- More than 14,000 people are admitted to UK hospitals with serious burns each year
- 4 million surgical procedures take place in the UK each year, many leaving visible scars
- 11,000 amputations of the hand, foot, arm or leg are carried out in the UK each year

The Healing Foundation is a national fundraising charity established in 1999. Their objects are for the relief of sickness and for the preservation and protection of public health by:

- Carrying out and funding research into the improvements of treatments for the benefit of people who suffer from physical, psychological, social, or emotional disadvantage as a result of physical disfigurement or functional impairment present at birth or acquired through accident, disease, or illness and into the prevention of accidents which may cause such conditions
- Disseminating the results of this research and helping to train health workers in appropriate treatments throughout the world
- Informing people about the availability of treatments both new and in development

For more information please visit:

Professor Amaya's previous position was as Wellcome Senior Research Fellow at The Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute, Cambridge.  He will work closely in Manchester with Professor Gus McGrouther, one of the UK's most respected plastic surgeons, and Professor Mark Ferguson, whose previous research in the field of tissue engineering is of considerable renown.

For more information about the work of the Healing Foundation please visit:

For further information or to arrange interviews with Professor Enrique Amaya and/or Simon Weston please contact:

Brendan Eley
Chief Executive    
The Healing Foundation    
020 7869 6920      
07789 202 692

Aeron Haworth
Media Officer    
The University of Manchester    
0161 275 8383
07717 881 563