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The award from the Medical Research Council (MRC) will support research to improve treatments for open fractures in low- and middle-income countries.

Simon Graham

Injuries are the leading cause of death in people aged between 10-49 years, and more people die from injuries than from HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. For every person who dies, up to 50 people survive but become disabled.

Open fractures are amongst the most devastating type of injury. An open fracture is a break of a bone where part of the bone comes out through the skin and can result in catastrophic consequences, including high rates of infection and amputation. They most commonly affect people living in poor regions around the world, such as countries in Africa. However, it is not known how many people in Africa sustain an open fracture, what healthcare services are available to treat them, or how best to improve their recovery.

‘Without this fundamental information, it is difficult to know how to improve the care of these complex injuries in settings where resources are limited,’ said Simon Graham, Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Trauma Surgery at NDORMS. ‘With the MRC Fellowship, I can start to explore some of the unknown facts about open fractures. Starting by assessing the current resources available in terms of facilities, equipment, and people, I’ll then determine the number open fractures being treated across South Africa and from here the plan is to undertake a study to 'test' if it is possible to do large-scale research studies of patients suffering from an open fracture. The ultimate goal is to improve outcomes for patients around the world.’

Simon is one of few UK Academic Consultant Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeons with a research interest dedicated to developing advances in higher standards of care in trauma surgery in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Having spent 3 years working as a surgeon and researcher in sub-Saharan Africa, he currently leads a clinical research network throughout the region.

Professor Jonathan Rees, Head of Department at NDORMS said: ‘I am delighted that Simon has been offered support from the MRC to explore such an important area of research into open fractures. Despite this being an important global healthcare problem, there is a significant lack of evidence to guide the planning and management of open fracture care in low resource settings. Simon is in a unique position to lead a global research programme in this field, producing new evidence to benefit all patients that suffer these incredibly serious injuries.’

‘My desire is to build outstanding global collaborative research between clinicians, academics, and scientists, which will facilitate high quality of work, with real-world impact for patients who suffer from musculoskeletal injuries and be a model for pathways of care in other LMICs globally,’ concluded Simon.