Karen Burns


Scientist, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute


Dr. Karen Burns practices critical care medicine at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. She is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto, a Clinician Scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, and an Associate Member of the School of Graduate Studies with the Institute of Health Policy Management and Evaluation (University of Toronto) and the Department of Clinical Epidemiology (McMaster University).

Dr. Burns’ research program focuses on evaluating strategies to liberate critically ill patients from mechanical ventilation and characterizing practice variation in weaning critically ill adults from ventilators. Her research program includes large scale observational studies, national and international weaning surveys, meta-analyses, and randomized trials comparing different weaning strategies. She also has developed a research program to characterize the unique aspects of the consent processes in critical care. Additional research interests include acute kidney injury in the intensive care unit, using noninvasive positive pressure ventilation as a weaning strategy, and methodology issues related to study design, implementation, and reporting.

Dr. Burns has been the recipient of several personnel awards including a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Clinician Scientist Award, a Ministry of Research and Innovation Award and a University of Toronto Merritt Committee Award.

Dr. Burns is an Executive Member of the Canadian Critical Care Trials Group and is the Scientific Chair of the Canadian Critical Care Society.


Recent Publications

  1. Burns, KEA, Straus, SE, Liu, K, Rizvi, L, Guyatt, G. Gender differences in grant and personnel award funding rates at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research based on research content area: A retrospective analysis. PLoS Med. 2019;16 (10):e1002935. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002935. PubMed PMID:31613898 .
  2. Burns, KEA, Rizvi, L, Cook, DJ, Seely, AJE, Rochwerg, B, Lamontagne, F et al.. Frequency of Screening and SBT Technique Trial - North American Weaning Collaboration (FAST-NAWC): a protocol for a multicenter, factorial randomized trial. Trials. 2019;20 (1):587. doi: 10.1186/s13063-019-3641-8. PubMed PMID:31604480 .
  3. Burns, KEA, Rizvi, L, Cook, DJ, Dodek, P, Slutsky, AS, Jones, A et al.. Variation in the practice of discontinuing mechanical ventilation in critically ill adults: study protocol for an international prospective observational study. BMJ Open. 2019;9 (9):e031775. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-031775. PubMed PMID:31501132 PubMed Central PMC6738743.
  4. Lewis, KA, Chaudhuri, D, Guyatt, G, Burns, KEA, Bosma, K, Ge, L et al.. Comparison of ventilatory modes to facilitate liberation from mechanical ventilation: protocol for a systematic review and network meta-analysis. BMJ Open. 2019;9 (9):e030407. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-030407. PubMed PMID:31492786 PubMed Central PMC6731837.
  5. Gehrke, P, Binnie, A, Chan, SPT, Cook, DJ, Burns, KEA, Rewa, OG et al.. Fostering community hospital research. CMAJ. 2019;191 (35):E962-E966. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.190055. PubMed PMID:31481424 PubMed Central PMC6721863.
  6. Abrams, D, Pham, T, Burns, KEA, Combes, A, Curtis, JR, Mueller, T et al.. Practice Patterns and Ethical Considerations in the Management of Venovenous Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Patients: An International Survey. Crit. Care Med. 2019;47 (10):1346-1355. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0000000000003910. PubMed PMID:31356471 .
  7. Burns, KEA, Burnham, EL, Dodek, PM, Moss, M. Unconscious bias in the selection and interpretation of data on sex and burnout - Authors' reply. Lancet Respir Med. 2019;7 (8):e24. doi: 10.1016/S2213-2600(19)30223-1. PubMed PMID:31342898 .
  8. Arabi, YM, Burns, KEA, Finfer, S. Pneumatic Compression in Venous Thromboprophylaxis. Reply. N. Engl. J. Med. 2019;381 (1):95. doi: 10.1056/NEJMc1905933. PubMed PMID:31269377 .
  9. Rochwerg, B, Granton, D, Wang, DX, Einav, S, Burns, KEA. High-flow nasal cannula compared with conventional oxygen therapy for acute hypoxemic respiratory failure: author's reply. Intensive Care Med. 2019;45 (8):1171. doi: 10.1007/s00134-019-05658-2. PubMed PMID:31236637 .
  10. Turgeon, AF, Dorrance, K, Archambault, P, Lauzier, F, Lamontagne, F, Zarychanski, R et al.. Factors influencing decisions by critical care physicians to withdraw life-sustaining treatments in critically ill adult patients with severe traumatic brain injury. CMAJ. 2019;191 (24):E652-E663. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.190154. PubMed PMID:31209132 PubMed Central PMC6581526.
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Affiliations & Other Activities

  • Clinician Scientist, Interdepartmental Division of Critical Care Medicine, St Michael’s Hospital
  • Clinician Scientist, Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
  • Assistant Professor, Interdepartmental Division of Critical Care Medicine, St. Michael’s Hospital
  • Chair, Medical Surgical ICU Knowledge Translation Committee, St. Michael’s Hospital
  • Organizing Member, Critical Care Continuing Medical Education Committee, St. Michael’s Hospital
  • Member, Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee, St. Michael’s Hospital
  • Certification (critical care), University of Western Ontario
  • Member, ACCADEMY (McMaster University)
  • Member, Canadian Critical Care Trials Group
  • Reviewer for several critical care and respirology journals