WHS Mission and Guiding Principles
Mission: Improve wound healing outcomes through science, professional education, and communication by:
• Leading multi-disciplinary research in wound science and outcomes.
• Linking scientists and clinicians to advance wound healing research.
• Translating discovery into evidence based clinical outcomes.
• Communicating through mentoring, education, publications, and global networking.
Passing of the gavel, Andrew Baird smiling, everyone cheering…and suddenly, it is upon me?! Since then, it has been a whirlwind that mainly revolved around the question: “What do you hope to accomplish in one year?” Accomplish and one year in the same sentence, hmmm… It may take longer, but what I hope is to plant a few worthy “seeds” that will be cared for and carried forward by our members long after I am retired. To start, it is helpful if we take a look and review where the wound healing field is now, and where WHS is in the context of its community. So, let’s review together some of the “ABCs”:
AWARNESS! This is, in my humble opinion, the most important and the most challenging ongoing issue in our field. Absence of public awareness, for the lack of a better word, amazes me. Aren’t statistics and numbers enough?! Mortality rates, amputations, and billions of dollars spent speak very loud, but who is listening? We have witnessed that when communities (public, government, science and industry) all come together, tremendous advances happen, devastated diseases become manageable, and as a result, many lives are improved and saved. Every time I donate to various causes in local supermarkets, I am thinking of when it will be turn for our field. Although this has not happened yet, we all have a responsibility to contribute to this goal. The Wound Healing Society will continue to lead these efforts and I invite all of you to join this cause.
BEAUTY of wound healing. It is easy to laser-focus on “the issues” and lose sight of this amazing process: the ability of an organism to heal, repair and/or regenerate! I also love the fact that wound healing is such superb teaching tool and a great platform for basic science and medical curriculums alike. I am in awe of the sheer complexity of the process that integrates so many components, cells and tissues all orchestrated together to create a perfect harmony. How beautiful it is when it is well-executed, how devastating it is when it is not, and how thrilling it is when a non-healing wound turns into a healing one, a limb is saved or a scar is gone. It is a privilege to be a wound healer!
CONSOLIDATION and COMMUNITY. I am sure you’ve noticed that our field is very fragmented (so many groups, courses, guidelines, and certifications), and it is hard for any individual to keep up, navigate, maintain an eye on a big picture and define a role within all of it. In an effort to help remedy this, WHS is launching an initiative to establish and facilitate special interest groups focusing on specialty areas, such as, for example, “clinical outcomes and surrogate endpoints”, or “scarring and fibrosis”, or “animal models” etc. Furthermore, the WHS already initiated a sponsorship program for Regional meetings, whereby WHS will partner with local community, groups of wound healing health professionals and researchers to provide education, training and insights into latest scientific discoveries and clinical advances.
DEDICATION, passion and hard work of all wound healing professionals is unparalleled, and I salute you! Every time I walk into one of the packed rooms during our WHS Annual meeting I am truly inspired by the energy and thirst for knowledge (even if it is early morning on a Saturday), and by the variety of disciplines of both clinical and basic science research. We invite all of you to join the WHS and engage in our committees, interest groups and community.
EDUCATION has always been one of the core of the WHS activities. Stay tuned for innovative teaching experiences stemming from our energized Educations Committee. Better yet, get engaged and join the committee - those who teach do more!
FOUNDATION. WHS and the Wound Healing Foundation have a long history together and continue to work on many joint tasks in advancing our field, particularly in celebrating major scientific advances by honoring scientists with Hunt Lecture at the WHS Annual Meeting as well as supporting research projects of junior investigators.
GOVERNMENT has a major impact to our field, whether it is the FDA guidelines that determine success/failure of clinical trials, or which path of regulatory approval can be taken, reimbursements of the products, comparative effectiveness of the therapies we use, how to approach treatment of combat wounds, or research funding that facilitates research in our field, and many more. WHS is determined to continue to build these relationships and has dedicated a special committee focusing on this task.
…OK, I have to omit some letters of the alphabet, otherwise this will be the longest letter in history…
JOURNAL. Wound Repair and Regeneration is the Society’s journal that also experienced a recent “passing of the gavel”, whereby we bid thank you to Pat Hebda (I hope you attended a great session we dedicated to Pat during our 2016 meeting in Atlanta) and welcomed new Editor in Chief, Jeff Davidson, together with an expanded Editorial Board. The WRR journal is the public face of our Society in many ways and it can only be as good as the quality of the manuscripts we submit. In addition to WRR, please check out WHS’s affiliated journal, Advances in Wound Care. I challenge every WHS member to submit at least one substantial, high quality contribution this year to our journal(s).
MODELS. Another challenge in the field that needs our immediate attention. Numerous models and many assessment approaches, but very little guidance from the literature as to which are more appropriate for translational and pre-clinical research, and which are more useful for mechanistic basic research studies. WHS is taking the initiative to develop guidelines for pre-clinical animal models and standardization of assessment methods. This is a major undertaking and will take a lot of time and effort, but WHS members will build from previous experiences, as we developed clinical guidelines regarding standard care for specific ulcer types and, as the research and knowledge advance, re-issued periodic updates. We will hopefully follow a similar approach with guidelines for animal models.
NETWORKING. As they say “communication is the key to any relationship”. Although some of us still have to catch up with the versatility of Twitter and Facebook, social or any other - networking is essential. Whether it is to promote our filed, find a genomic profile, discuss the latest experiment, or share news, networking holds a key to making WHS work for all of you and for our field. You can follow us on FB (https://www.facebook.com/woundheal) and on Twitter (@woundheal) or you can reach out directly to Executive Board or me via WHSPresident@faseb.org
PEER review. Ahhh, the hardships (and, on a rare occasion, contentment) of the scientific world. Whether you are on a “receiving end” (an author or a PI) or on a “delivering end” (a reviewer or editor) of this process, it is a great challenge for all participants. Still, we’ve got to do more and get better at this! Manuscripts or grants, when asked – please accept, and do your best to be constructive and helpful. Do not get discouraged! Inspire others. True advances and awareness in our field will only follow if more high-quality manuscripts are published and more grants are submitted/funded and we all contribute to it.
REGENERATION. In a sight of devastation of chronic, non-healing wounds, focus is on repair and getting these wounds closed. However, I cannot help but feel that we are somehow settling. Instead, perhaps we should leap and aim to regenerate rather than to repair. We live in exciting times in which technologies and abilities of tissue engineering as well as advances in science of regenerative medicine are rapidly expanding and I look forward to WHS members engaging more into these fields.
Now that some ABCs are outlined, we can work together to make new words and verses, develop new concepts and write new chapters. I look forward to be working with all of you!
Marjana Tomic-Canic, PhD
President, The Wound Healing Society