Research Report | Dr. McLeod

Shelley McLeod

Back in March, when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, I remember gathering our SREMI staff and faculty and announcing that as a precautionary safety measure, we would be asking everyone to work from home for the next two weeks. Weeks turned into months, and we all had to figure out how to remain engaged, motivated and connected. Zoom became the newest and most important member of our team. In the face of unprecedented challenges, SREMI researchers and scholars had the most productive and prolific year to date. To say that I am proud of our team would be a massive understatement.

Research Impact

SREMI scientists are among the top academic producers in the country and are increasingly being recognised as leaders in our discipline. Since November 2019, SREMI investigators have won eight research awards, acknowledging the important contributions we are making towards the advancement of emergency medicine. One of our Geri-EM fellows, Dr. Rebecca Schonnop, was awarded a CAEP Junior Investigator Grant to explore healthcare provider opinions and perceptions regarding factors that contribute to missed delirium in older emergency department patients. Dr. Keerat Grewal won a CanVECTOR research award for her work on the risk of venous thromboembolism (blood clots) in patients with an ankle fracture requiring immobilization. SREMI investigators were authors on three of the four CAEP 2020 plenary abstracts, and our eCTAS research team was selected as a finalist for the Grizzly Den Award. 

Most impressively, Dr. Catherine Varner received the CAEP New Investigator Award and expertly presented her work virtually at the CAEP National Ground Rounds showcasing the best in Canadian emergency medicine research. She was also a finalist for the SAEM Young Investigator Award for her research comparing prescribed light exercise to standard management for emergency department patients with acute mild traumatic brain injury. Finally, SREMI scholars published a mind-blowing 56 peer-reviewed manuscripts in high-impact journals, with another 21 manuscripts currently under review.

The COVID Pivot 

Although COVID has presented challenges for some of our ongoing studies collecting data in the emergency department, it has also provided an opportunity to collaborate with new research networks locally, nationally and internationally. Dr. Bjug Borgundvaag and I are co-investigators on a blinded, randomized controlled trial to determine if pre-exposure prophylaxis reduces COVID-19 among health care workers in the emergency department. We are working with Ontario scientists on a longitudinal study that will link serological, genomic and patient characteristics to provide a comprehensive understanding of factors that contribute to variability in symptoms and outcomes among COVID-19 patients. We also partnered with experts in artificial intelligence to develop a model to predict future oxygen requirement in COVID-19 patients based on chest X-ray findings and data available at the time of ED presentation or admission to hospital. 

Additionally, NYGH is collecting data for the Canadian COVID-19 Emergency Department Registry Network, and Dr. Rohit Mohindra is working with SREMI affiliated scholar Dr. Katie Dainty on a qualitative project to explore patients’ perspective on high risk COVID-19 follow-up clinics. Dr. Jacques Lee has proposed a randomized trial that would use specially trained, older, hospital volunteers to provide peer support to combat isolation and loneliness in isolated older people. Finally, in collaboration with the World Health Organization and The British Medical Journal, I am working with a group of international methodologists and clinicians to conduct a living network meta-analysis for the management of COVID-19 that informs international clinical practice guidelines. The international attention this work has garnered is astonishing, as evidenced by the altmetric from our first publication ( which is currently 3105.

The success of this past year is a direct reflection of the hard work, perseverance, and resiliency of our SREMI team. I would like to thank our Director, Dr. Borgundvaag for his leadership through these extraordinary times, the SREMI research faculty, and our research coordinator Cameron Thompson for his incredible efforts. I would also like to thank our generous benefactors, Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman, for their ongoing patronage and support.
Respectfully submitted,

Shelley McLeod PhD(c) MSc MSc BScHons
Research Director