Iain Whitaker

Iain WhitakerYear of qualification


Current position
Chair of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, Swansea University Medical School
Honorary Consultant Plastic Surgeon, The Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery
Director, The Reconstructive Surgery & Regenerative Medicine Research Group

Member, BAPRAS Research Committee 2016-2018
Deputy Editor, The Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery 2015-
Associate Editor, Annals of Plastic Surgery
Chief Specialty Editor, Frontiers in Surgery

Career to Date
BA, MA, MBBChir (University of Cambridge, Trinity Hall)
PhD (University of Utrecht)
Rowan Nick’s Fellowship in Reconstructive Microsurgery (Royal Melbourne Hospital & Melbourne University)
EURAPS Young Plastic Surgeon Fellowship in Facial Reconstruction (HEGP, Paris)
Cutler/Royal College of Surgeons of England Fellowship in Ear Reconstruction and facial aesthetics (Clinic Bizet, Paris)

When did you decide to get involved in research and why?
I decided to get involved in research as a medical student at Cambridge due to the inspirational environment. I was further motivated by mentors during my sub-internship at Harvard Medical School, publishing two small papers during an 8 week elective period. My continued activity in the area was fuelled by intrinsic interest in the development of the speciality, the potential to challenge current practice and influence the future. The dedication of spare time to research and academic pursuits was rewarded by being awarded multiple awards throughout my career, offered the opportunity to travel the world and complete competitive fellowships. During the last 5 years, I have built a large research group and I have found the immersion in both clinical and academic practice has allowed me to develop skills, professional relationships and a very stimulating day job which I appreciate and enjoy.

What is your area of research interest?
My main research interest, supported by both BAPRAS and RCS England, involves mesenchymal tissue engineering in combination with 3D Bioprinting to allow customised biofabrication to aid facial surgery. I also have interests in the developing fields of PROMs in Plastic Surgery and the potential role of big data in planning service provision.

How have you managed to combine clinical work with research?
Throughout my training, it was difficult. I made it work as I had to produce high levels of outputs to be competitive in a time when I knew there would be very few academic posts available. I now have a University Post which supports academic sessions per week. I have focused my clinical work to complement my research interests, and have been fortunate to have the support of the Health Board and Clinical Directors during my time in post and strong support from the RCS Eng and BAPRAS in terms of awards and encouragement. To keep research relevant, I have fostered relationships between my clinical lecturers and post
doctoral researchers and multidisciplinary specialists in the fields of Engineering, Biomaterials, Cell Biology, Data analytics, Public Health and Large Industrial Supporters in both the UK and USA.

What have been the sources of your research funding?
I have obtained over £3 million in research funding for salary and consumables as either a Chief or Principle investigator from a wide range of organisations. The major ones (>£100,000) include the RCS(Eng), MRC, Health Research Wales, ABMU Health Board, Welsh Assembly Government, Oakgrove Medical Foundation Research Award. I have also been fortunate in gaining support from BAPRAS via various research awards (Pump Priming Award, Paton Masser, International Travelling Fellowship).

What are the benefits and challenges of being a clinical academic?
An academic career combining surgery and research is not for everyone. The path is long, difficult, there are multiple barriers and challenges. It is essential that you keep up substantial efforts in both clinical delivery and development as well as delivering on research outputs. Everyone has their own innate reward structure, and for the clinical academic, the important part is feeling of satisfaction when you make unique contributions to your specialty and improving patients’ care either in the short or long term. To be part of a potential transformation in patient care (ie: tissue engineering), affect short term management (via patient reported outcome measures) or help plan service provision (via big data analysis) is truly stimulating.

Selected Publications (Total 178, H index 31, i10 Index 70, Citations >3,250)

Reference Texts
3D Bioprinting for Reconstructive Surgery: Techniques and Applications.
Thomas D, Jessop ZM, Whitaker IS. 1st Edition. Hardcover. 450 pages. Elsevier : Woodhead
Publishing. 2017. ISBN: 9780081011034.

Flaps Practical Reconstructive Surgery.
Shokrollahi K, Whitaker IS, Nahai F. 1st Edition. Hardcover. 704 pages. Thieme Publishers,
New York, Stuttgart. 2017. ISBN: 9781604067156.

Original Articles
McCully ML, Ladell K, Andrews R, Jones RE, Miners KL, Roger L, Baird DM, Cameron MJ, Jessop ZM, Whitaker IS, Davies EL, Price DA, Moser B. CCR8 Expression Defines Tissue- Resident Memory T Cells in Human Skin. J Immunol. (2018) 200:1639-1650. (Impact Factor 5.18)

Kyle S, Jessop ZM, Al-Sabah A, Whitaker IS. 'Printability' of candidate biomaterials for extrusion based 3D printing: State-of-the-Art. Adv Healthc Mater. (2017) 6(16). (Impact Factor 5.79)

Jessop ZM, Manivannan S, Al-Sabah A, Simoes I, Narayan R, Whitaker IS. Tissue specific stem cells for cartilage biofabrication. Advanced Physics Reviews. (2018) In Press, accepted (Impact Factor 13.67)

Jessop ZM, Al-Sabah A, Francis WR, Whitaker IS. Transforming healthcare through regenerative medicine. BMC Med (2016) 14:115. (Impact Factor 7.9)

Jessop ZM, Javed M, Otto IA, Combellack EJ, Morgan S, Breugem CC, Archer CW, Khan IM, Lineaweaver WC, Kon M, Malda J, Whitaker IS. Combining regenerative medicine strategies to provide durable reconstructive options: auricular cartilage tissue engineering. Stem Cell Res Ther (2016) 7:19. (Impact Factor 4.7)