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Research Projects

Project 1: Improving the Identification of Sepsis

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS

Dr. Allan Garland | Professor, University of Manitoba 
Contact: agarland@hsc.mb.ca

Dr. Hallie Prescott | Associate Professor, University of Michigan 
Contact: hprescot@med.umich.edu

SEPSIS CANADA TEAM:Team 1 

PROJECT STATUS:Active / Ongoing 

FOCUS AREA:Improving the detection and identification of sepsis  

PROJECT SUMMARY  

The most fundamental aspect of all research and clinical knowledge about sepsis is its definition. But sepsis is a syndrome rather than a disease, and clinicians and epidemiologists struggle to define and identify sepsis. Currently, two approaches exist for sepsis case-finding in epidemiologic work. Both seek to identify patients with infection and acute organ failure. The first uses diagnostic codes in administrative hospital records. There are a variety of these algorithms, giving not only different incidence rates of sepsis, but also differences over time. The second approach uses data from electronic medical records. Not only do these approaches give different sepsis incidence rates, but there is evidence suggesting that both underestimate the true incidence of sepsis. In this project we will look to refine/improve both existing methods, and to develop a profoundly different approach to identifying sepsis; this will use advanced statistical methods to large, population-based patient datasets, seeking self-defined clusters that can be interpreted as representing phenotypes along the clinical spectrum of sepsis.  

If you would like to collaborate on this research project or learn more about it, please contact the Principal Investigators.   

Project 2: Creation of a Metadata Catalog and Platforms for Sepsis Epidemiology Studies

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS

Dr. Allan Garland | Professor, University of Manitoba 
Contact: agarland@hsc.mb.ca

Dr. Isabel Fortier | Assistant Professor, McGill University
Contact: isabel.fortier2@mcgill.ca

SEPSIS CANADA TEAM:Team 1 

PROJECT STATUS:Active / Ongoing  

FOCUS AREA:Improving the detection and identification of sepsis  

PROJECT SUMMARY  

Numerous and diverse existing datasets can be used to study the epidemiology of sepsis. Maximally leveraging data to study sepsis requires obtaining access to and co-analyzing linked data. However, these datasets are distributed across Canada, some are not well known or understood by sepsis investigators, and efforts to identify relevant datasets, ask for access, link and harmonize the data are fraught with challenges. A metadata catalogue is a mechanism for documenting and providing access to descriptive metadata (data about the data) for multiple datasets. Such catalogs allow users to query for data items based on desired attributes. This metadata catalog of relevant existing datasets will facilitate identifying data of value to be used for discovery, monitoring of improvement, and policymaking. We will catalog not only medical data that identify clinical sepsis events, but also non-medical datasets containing diverse information. Linking these two types of data will enable exploration of the role of novel risk factors for sepsis.  

Visit the Sepsis Canada Metadata Catalogue 

If you would like to collaborate on this research project or learn more about it, please contact the Principal Investigators.   

Project 3: Scoping Review and Cataloguing of Existing Knowledge About the Epidemiology of Sepsis  

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS

Dr. Elizabeth Wilcox | Assistant Professor, University of Toronto  
Contact: elizabeth.wilcox@uhn.ca

SEPSIS CANADA TEAM:Team 1 

PROJECT STATUS:Active / Ongoing 

FOCUS AREA:  Improving the detection and identification of sepsis  

PROJECT SUMMARY  

Little is known about the numbers and distribution (i.e., epidemiology) of sepsis, a life-threatening condition that is the 12th leading cause of death in Canada. Changing definitions and challenges in its recognition by healthcare professionals have hindered our understanding of the epidemiology of sepsis. This project will summarize the available literature on the epidemiology of sepsis and have that summary available online/accessible to patients, family members, healthcare professionals, researchers, and policymakers.  

If you would like to collaborate on this research project or learn more about it, please contact the Principal Investigator.  

Project 4: The Impact of Diabetes on Sepsis-Associated Clinical Outcomes 

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS

Dr. Claudio Martin | Professor Western University
Contact: cmartin1@uwo.ca

Dr. Damon Scales | Professor, University of Toronto 
Contact: damon.scales@sunnybrook.ca

SEPSIS CANADA TEAM:Team 1 

PROJECT STATUS:Under development 

FOCUS AREA:Understanding the causes of sepsis 

PROJECT SUMMARY 

A precise understanding of the interactions between diabetes and sepsis is lacking. A complete analysis requires consideration of predisposing factors (factors that put someone at risk for developing a health problem), type of infection, immune response and both short- and long-term outcomes. This study will use population health methods with large, linked datasets to address this gap in knowledge. Novel opportunities include the ability to explore interactions between indicators of disease control, and social determinants with sepsis. The team will use updated approaches to sepsis identification and consider heterogeneity of the disease through a framework that considers the patient’s baseline predisposition, details of the infection, and organ failures.  

If you would like to collaborate on this research project or learn more about it, please contact the Principal Investigators.  

Project 5: The Economic Costs of Sepsis

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS

Dr. Kali Barrett | Clinical Associate, University of Toronto  
Contact: kali.barrett@uhn.ca

SEPSIS CANADA TEAM:Team 1 

PROJECT STATUS:Under development 

FOCUS AREA:Improving the detection and identification of sepsis 

PROJECT SUMMARY  

This study aims to further our understanding of the economic impacts of sepsis from both the health system and the societal perspective. The team will explore the effect of sepsis on the risk of becoming a new high-cost user to the health system and estimate how social determinants of health, as indicated by marginalization, modify that effect. The team will also measure the effect of sepsis on the ability to work and earn for individuals with sepsis. Importantly, the results of these studies will have immediate and tangible applicability. They will support much needed health economic evaluations and policy development related to sepsis.  

If you would like to collaborate on this research project or learn more about it, please contact the Principal Investigator.  

Project 6: Creating a Culture of Sepsis Awareness Through Advocacy, Health Literacy and Knowledge Transfer

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS

Dr. Jeanna Parsons Leigh | Assistant Professor, Dalhousie University 
Contact: j.parsonsleigh@dal.ca

Dr. Kirsten Fiest | Associate Professor, University of Calgary 
Contact: kmfiest@ucalgary.ca

SEPSIS CANADA TEAM:Team 2 

PROJECT STATUS:Active / Ongoing 

FOCUS AREA:Improving the prevention of sepsis 

PROJECT SUMMARY 

Most sepsis cases start in the community. So, it is especially important for the public to be aware of sepsis, know the signs and symptoms to look for, and know what to do if sepsis is suspected. Recognizing sepsis early is the best hope to survive and limit serious health problems. Unfortunately, we do not know a lot about what Canadians understand about sepsis. Surveys done in other countries suggest that most people do not know a lot about sepsis. There are health education campaigns to help teach people about sepsis, but few are Canadian-focused.  

In this teams 5-Year study, they aim to understand and improve public awareness of sepsis in Canada. To meet this goal, they will involve people living in Canada in three ways:  

  1. Conduct surveys across Canada every other year. This will provide a snapshot of the public’s awareness and understanding of sepsis (what is sepsis, how does someone get it, signs and symptoms, treatment). They will also be able to examine if people have a different understanding of sepsis and different information needs based on, for example, their gender, age, education level, income level, or ethnic or cultural background. 
  2. Conduct focus groups after the first and second national surveys. The focus groups will include people from across Canada. They will use a computer platform to conduct the focus groups. The focus groups will help the team learn more about what the public understands about sepsis as well as how they find and use information to make health-related decisions, including trusted sources for information. 
  3. Develop a Canadian health campaign to educate and inform the public about sepsis. The team will measure if the campaign helps improve Canadian’s awareness and understanding of sepsis.  

Sepsis is threat to the health of Canadians and populations around the world. This study will improve our knowledge of Canadian’s awareness and understanding of sepsis. The study results will help to educate,engage, and empower the Canadian public to make informed decisions about their own health 

If you would like to collaborate on this research project or learn more about it, please contact the Principal Investigators. 

Project 7: Addressing Gaps in Sepsis Care with Paramedics and Emergency Department Staff

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS

Dr. Alix Carter| Associate Professor, Dalhousie University  
Contact: alix.carter@govs.ns.ca

Dr. Blair Bigham | Critical Care Fellow, Stanford University
Contact: Bigham@stanford.edu

SEPSIS CANADA TEAM:Team 2 

PROJECT STATUS:Under Development  

FOCUS AREA: Improving the prevention of sepsis, Improving detection and identification of sepsis, Improving the management of sepsis 

PROJECT SUMMARY 

In Canada, most patients with sepsis have their first point of medical contact with paramedics and are subsequently admitted to hospitals through Emergency Departments. Studies show that recognizing and managing sepsis is challenging, and that failing to recognize early sepsis and promptly initiate treatments can lead to poor outcomes and even death. Sepsis guidelines exist and contain recommendations for early diagnosis and management of sepsis. However, despite these guidelines, many barriers impede their implementation. This study will improve the early identification and shorten the time to treatment of patients with sepsis through:

  1. The identification of local and system barriers and facilitators to the implementation of sepsis guidelines amongst paramedics, and emergency department nurses and physicians
  2. The evaluation of existing and novel knowledge translation interventions to mitigate barriers and take advantage of existing facilitators in prehospital and emergency department settings

If you would like to collaborate on this research project or learn more about it, please contact the Principal Investigators.   

Project 8: Sepsis Canada Interdisciplinary Training Program 

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS

Dr. Patricia Fontela| Associate Professor, McGill University 
Contact: patricia.fontela@mcgill.ca

Dr. Dominique Piquette  | Assistant Professor, University of Toronto 
Contact: Dominique.Piquette@sunnybrook.ca

SEPSIS CANADA TEAM: Team 2

PROJECT STATUS: Active / Ongoing   

FOCUS AREA: Educating the next generation    

PROJECT SUMMARY 

Offered through the Sepsis Canada Research Network, the Sepsis Canada Interdisciplinary Training Program provides a variety of learners (i.e.., early career researchers, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research staff, health care professionals and patient and family partners) with the knowledge and skill set needed to engage in sepsis research and improve the care for sepsis patients. Learners will engage in the program for 2 years:   

During Year 1, all learners follow the online Sepsis Canada Core Curriculum which aims to provide a basic understanding of sepsis research across biomedical, clinical, health services and population health research as well as the role of patient and family partners in the research process.  

During Year 2, learners can choose to engage in one of three online streams including: a) the biomedical stream, b) the patient and family partnership stream and c) the clinical, population health and health services stream.   

The Training Program also consists of one-to-one mentorship, an annual symposium, training awards and experiential learning opportunities.   

The Trainee Committee will design, implement, and evaluate the Training Program.   

If you would like to collaborate on this research project or learn more about it, please contact the Principal Investigators.  

Project 9: Canadian Clinical Research Network and Biorepository 

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS

Dr. François Lamontagne| Professor, Université de Sherbrooke 
Contact: Francois.Lamontagne@USherbrooke.ca

Dr. Michelle Kho | Associate Professor, McMaster University 
Contact:  khome@mcmaster.ca  

SEPSIS CANADA TEAM: Team 3 

PROJECT STATUS: Active / Ongoing  

FOCUS AREA: Understanding the causes of sepsis, Improving management of sepsis  

PROJECT SUMMARY 

The following challenges to research efficiency in Canada currently exist: a minimally connected clinical trials and biomedical research ecosystem, limited Canada-specific research priority-setting, lack of patient and citizen input, overlapping trial hypotheses and interventions, parallel research ethics and regulatory processes, limited sharing of trial infrastructure and biomedical samples and duplication in approaching research participants, consenting, data collection and follow-up. There is also minimal trial connection with existing population and hospital-based datasets, unintegrated knowledge mobilization and stakeholder engagement and a lack of durable capacity building.   

The Canadian Clinical Research Network and Biorepository aims to:   

  • Measure and improve capacity for clinical research in Canada: to develop high-quality information on Canada’s COVID-19 and sepsis research portfolio (list of studies and progress of studies), to develop high-quality information on Canada’s clinical research capacity to conduct COVID-19 and sepsis studies (lists and characteristics of participating sites and to increase Canada’s capacity for clinical research on COVID-19 and sepsis by supporting interested sites).  
  • Create the repositories containing the meta-data pertaining to participating sites and active research programs (including data dictionaries and linked specimens).   

If you would like to collaborate on this research project or learn more about it, please contact the Principal Investigators.

Project 10: National Preclinical Sepsis Platform  

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS

Dr. Manoj Lalu| Assistant Professor, University of Ottawa
Contact: mlalu@toh.ca

Dr. Asher Mendelson | Assistant Professor, University of Manitoba 
Contact: Asher.Mendelson@umanitoba.ca

Dr. Braedon McDonald | Assistant Professor, University of Calgary  
Contact: bamcdona@ucalgary.ca

SEPSIS CANADA TEAM: Team 3 

PROJECT STATUS: Active / Ongoing  

FOCUS AREA: Understanding the causes of sepsis, Improving the management of sepsis  

PROJECT SUMMARY 

Improving clinical translation of basic science research in sepsis requires innovative methodology combined with “team science” collaborative models. This study establishes a national network of Canadian laboratories to conduct an innovative preclinical multicenter trial of sepsis. Using a multicentric approach, the team will first design standardized models of preclinical sepsis that rigorously evaluate sepsis pathophysiology across multiple biological domains. Second, the team will determine the effects of biological sex on host response in a murine model of sepsis in the context of background antibiotic therapy. Finally, they will identify promising novel sepsis therapeutics and design a pipeline for multicenter preclinical testing.  

If you would like to collaborate on this research project or learn more about it, please contact the Principal Investigators.