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. Chaudhuri, D, Granton, D, Wang, DX, Einav, S, Helviz, Y, Mauri, T et al.. Moderate Certainty Evidence Suggests the Use of High-Flow Nasal Cannula Does Not Decrease Hypoxia When Compared With Conventional Oxygen Therapy in the Peri-Intubation Period: Results of a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Crit. Care Med. 2020; :. doi: 10.1097/CCM.0000000000004217. PubMed PMID:31923025 .
  2. Li, DH, Wald, R, Blum, D, McArthur, E, James, MT, Burns, KEA et al.. Predicting mortality among critically ill patients with acute kidney injury treated with renal replacement therapy: Development and validation of new prediction models. J Crit Care. 2019;56 :113-119. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2019.12.015. PubMed PMID:31896444 .
  3. Crawshaw, J, Presseau, J, van Allen, Z, Pinheiro Carvalho, L, Jordison, K, English, S et al.. Exploring the experiences and perspectives of substitute decision-makers involved in decisions about deceased organ donation: a qualitative study protocol. BMJ Open. 2019;9 (12):e034594. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-034594. PubMed PMID:31874899 .
  4. Friedrich, JO, Burns, KEA. Spontaneous Breathing Trials and Successful Extubation. JAMA. 2019;322 (17):1716. doi: 10.1001/jama.2019.14217. PubMed PMID:31688876 .
  5. McCaskell, DS, Molloy, AJ, Childerhose, L, Costigan, FA, Reid, JC, McCaughan, M et al.. Correction to: Project management lessons learned from the multicentre CYCLE pilot randomized controlled trial. Trials. 2019;20 (1):606. doi: 10.1186/s13063-019-3716-6. PubMed PMID:31653225 PubMed Central PMC6814047.
  6. 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 PubMed Central PMC6793847.
  7. 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 PubMed Central PMC6787986.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
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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