Dr. Nicole S. Gibran: Encouraging recovery, both inside and out

Nicole S. Gibran, MD, FACS, is on a mission. She is dedicated not only to improving the lives of patients with burn injuries, but to ensuring that their interactions with the rest of the world are not plagued by shame or fear of judgement.

According to Dr. Gibran, a typical narrative her patients at the Harborview Medical Center, where she is a professor of surgery and director of the University of Washington Medicine Regional Burn Center, involves being told to hide their burn scars.

“We have a patient… who was injured as a high school graduate – just getting ready to start her life, go to college,” Dr. Gibran told the National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC). “She fell into a fire when she was at a graduation party.”

The young woman went to a convenience store on a hot day, wearing shorts, and a customer told her that she should be ashamed of herself and cover up her scars.

“We would like to eradicate that attitude,” Dr. Gibran says. “And we would like to eradicate the idea that they [patients with burn injuries] need to stay indoors and hide. Our burn patients have such a great opportunity to contribute, and we want to maximize that.”

Dr. Gibran’s research includes the role of nerves in wound repair, genetic influences on scarring, and long-term functional outcomes following burn injuries. She has been involved in multiple randomized controlled clinical trials and NIH/NIGMS-funded translational and basic sciences research studies, and she has co-authored several NIDRR-credited publications.

Dr. Gibran is visiting Vancouver this autumn as the keynote speaker for the 3rd Annual Canadian Burn Symposium. For more information, visit www.cpd.utoronto.ca/cdnburnsymposium.