Timeline of Scientific Impact

1961

The Blond McIndoe Research Foundation opens.

1964

The need arises for a modern burns centre at the Queen Victoria Hospital and, after Neville and Elaine and their family donate the entire building to the hospital, the McIndoe Memorial Research Unit and the world’s first specialist Burns Centre opens.

The centre allows new ground-breaking research, including investigations into the immunological role of the thymus gland.

The National Eye Bank of preserved corneal grafts is established at the centre, while microvascular anastomosis (joining tiny blood vessels) is pioneered in the UK.

The path of reconstructive surgery is radically changed by the success of the first successful toe-to-hand transfer for a missing thumb. Later, microvascular anastomosis surgery is used to successfully re-attach a finger to the hand of a two-year old, restoring the patient’s blood supply.

1970s

Breakthroughs include the use of infra-red cameras to assess the depth of burns, the first successful hand re-attachment operation and a tissue matching graft (using cadaver donor grafts) to significantly improve the success of a corneal graft. Later, tissue typing is introduced into corneal grafting, leading to the successful restoration of vision for many patients.

A pioneering breakthrough in the immunology of organ transplantation and tissue typing puts Blond McIndoe at the forefront of tissue typing and the matching of grafts to their recipients. Plus, the centre’s work contributes to the first heart transplant.

Blond McIndoe sets up a unique Freeze Dry Skin Bank, leading to the mass collection of freeze-dried skin.

The important identification of an antigen closely linked to Multiple Sclerosis allows studies into the possible mechanism of the disease.

1980s

There is further progress in successfully re-attaching limbs, including hands and arms, and important work is undertaken in improving our understanding of graft rejection and how it impacts on the use of donated skin grafts.

1990s

Ground-breaking research around nerves allows the development of growth factors for the reinnervation of (restoration of nerve supply to) peripheral organs and the culturing of Schwann cells for transplantation to encourage nerve regeneration. We also pioneer nerve gap regeneration using synthetic conduits.

Blond McIndoe publishes the word’s first example of cultured skin cells used in combination with a new artificial skin, known as Integra.

We pioneer the use of cultured skin cells for non-healing wounds for mastoid cavities of the ear.

The centre performs the world’s first knee operation using cultured cartilage cells with grafts of cartilage.

Sight is restored to patients using cultured corneal epithelial cells grafted on to their damaged cornea.

2000s

The Blond McIndoe Research Foundation establishes a clinical study into the use of sprayed cultured keratnocytes on patients suffering from large full thickness burns. Also, cultured keratinocytes from the Burns Centre are used in a study into children’s scalds.

The building and accreditation of the GMP suite allows the Foundation to culture a variety of cells for clinical use.

First use of DNA fingerprinting to study the fate of transplanted cultured cells on the surface of patients’ cornea completed.

The evaluation of novel technologies for improving wound repair continues with particular emphasis on skin and burns.

2017

The board of trustees develops a plan to maximise the effectiveness of the Foundation, including the placement of the existing scientific portfolio into larger scale research institutes. The Foundation moves forward as a fundraising, grant-making organisation in partnership with The Royal College of Surgeons.