Our research

With an ageing population globally, trauma accounts for 6 million deaths every year and 46 people lose their lives from serious injury every day in the UK.

Trauma accounts for more deaths than any other condition for people below 40 years of age and a significant number of life-changing and permanent disabilities.

Research Vision and Ambition

The UoB Centre for Trauma Science Research (CTSR) has developed the necessary infrastructure to take discovery projects from the lab right the way through to translation, or ‘bench to bedside’. It comprises teams of world-leading experts in acute response & inflammation, traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, ocular injury, smart dressings & hydrogels and trauma rehabilitation to deliver exceptional patient benefits. Embedded within this is a programme of trauma education, that seeks to provide current scientific basis behind the management of trauma patients for effective trauma management.


Education, Discovery Science, Preclinical Models, Proof of Concept Clinical Trials and Impact span across all activities within the Centre for Trauma Science Research. These activities are: Pre-injury factors, Acute response & Inflammation, Traumatic brain & spinal cord injury, Ocular Injury, Smart dressings & hydrogels, Trauma rehabilitation and Biomarkers & Outcomes.

Acute Response and Inflammation

This theme researches the early inflammatory response to trauma, how this develops into immune paresis with poor outcomes such as sepsis.

The body reacts to tissue damage with a profound inflammation in order to prevent infection but also to initiate repair processes and wound healing. This inflammatory response is accompanied by anti-inflammatory processes to maintain homeostasis. The balance of these two responses determines patient outcomes - too much inflammation can promote multi-organ failure, too little will predispose to infection and sepsis. Through analysis of patient immune responses from the first hour after injury through to the rehabilitation phase weeks later, we are improving understanding of the factors influencing the immune response to trauma.

Ocular Injury

We combine laboratory and clinical research to understand the mechanisms of trauma related visual loss and translate new scientific advances into better patient care. We are interested in projects that address trauma to the front of the eye as well as to the posterior segment of the eye.

Projects included understanding how ocular neurons die after injury and then to develop neuroprotective therapies to protect against vision loss. We are also interested in understanding how corneal scarring occurs after injury and infection and develop treatments to treat these conditions. A key aim is to identify biomarkers to stratify disease. Our work also involves projects in artificial intelligence and how best to translate this work safely but also efficiently for patient benefit.

Smart Dressings and Hydrogels

We are developing a range of functional dressings that also incorporate drugs and cells that augment the natural healing process with a particular focus on scar-free healing. Applications for therapeutic dressing include eye and skin conditions.

Trauma Rehabilitation 

There has been a marked improvement in survival rates following major trauma. Minimising subsequent disability, optimising functional recovery, and increasing patient-reported quality of life following acute trauma is therefore a research priority within the Centre for Trauma Science Research. Our research involves the development and application of innovative technologies for guided and enriched rehabilitation of patients following acute trauma. The theme focuses on personalised care through improved diagnostics and targeted interventions to increase the patients’ physical and cognitive functioning on discharge.

One key area of our research is understanding the mechanisms that underlie the transition from acute to chronic disabling post-traumatic pain. A better understanding of these mechanisms would facilitate the development and implementation of precision rehabilitation approaches that match interventions to projected risk of recovery, with the aim of preventing poor long-term outcomes. Thus, our studies aim to determine a set of predictive factors to identify patients at risk of developing ongoing post-traumatic pain and disability following acute musculoskeletal trauma.

Current projects include:

  • Development of a screening tool to predict the risk of chronic pain and disability following musculoskeletal trauma.
  • Investigating the causal mechanisms of symptom recovery in chronic whiplash associated disorders using bayesian networks.
  • Inter-rater reliability of quantifying mechanical and thermal sensitivity in a musculoskeletal trauma population.
  • Measures of central sensitisation and their measurement properties in the adult musculoskeletal trauma population.
  • Evaluating whether pain extent is a predictive factor of ongoing pain and disability in patients with chronic whiplash-associated disorders.
  • Kinesiophobia and pain catastrophizing in the progression of chronic pain and disability in whiplash associated disorders: a systematic review.
  • Do measures of physical function enhance the prediction of persistent pain and disability following a whiplash injury? A prospective observational study.
  • The effects of neck specific exercise versus neck specific exercise plus behavioural therapy on pain extent in patients with chronic whiplash.
  • The role of kinesiophobia on pain, disability, and quality of life in people suffering from chronic musculoskeletal pain.

Traumatic Brain and Spinal Cord Injury

We study the very early responses to Brain and Spinal trauma that reveal biomarkers for clinical outcomes, the mechanisms of acute neurodegeneration and long-term cognitive dysfunction, and develop novel neuroprotective, neuroregenerative and neurorepair technologies. A particular focus is concussion in professional football player.

Spinal cord injury (SCI) research includes discovery and translational research. Projects in the laboratory are focussed on understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms that prevent regeneration of axons after injury, the acute inflammatory response to injury, differences between SCI responses in mice versus rats, preventing SCI-induced oedema, inhibition of matrix metalloproteases and inhibiting DNA damage responses to promote functional recovery after injury.

Birmingham Spinal Cord Injury Research