Our research is centered on learning how and why organs fail during critical illness by studying the host's response.
Our research is motivated by the dream of identifying novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of acute organ failure in critically ill patients. The most common reasons for admission to the ICU are Sepsis and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). Both syndromes affect people of all ages, all ethnicities with no preference for gender or pre-clinical status. Despite enormous efforts, expertise and resources about 40% of patients die, and those who survive experience significant long term morbidity including muscle weakness, cognitive impairment and a persistently elevated risk of death. Success also comes at a significant societal cost: ICU care alone consumes 8% of the hospital budget and in Canada about 0.2% of our GDP, or $4 billion annually. On a global level, these costs are staggering rising to hundreds of billions of dollars annually. More importantly, the burden to patients, their loved ones and care givers remains a challenge. Most patients who die with sepsis or ARDS, die from multi-organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS). MODS is a continuum, with incremental degrees of physiologic derangements in individual organs; it is a process rather than a single event. Not all organs fail equally, and not all processes of failure are similar. Alteration in organ function can vary widely from a mild degree of organ dysfunction to completely irreversible organ failure; but the degree of organ dysfunction has a major clinical impact and understanding how this happens will provide novel insights regarding how to prevent, treat and reverse organ injury in these patients.