Sepsis is a potentially fatal whole-body inflammation caused by severe infection. Severe sepsis is sepsis complicated by organ dysfunction with patients becoming critically ill and requiring organ supportive measures in a critical care unit. 

John Laffey - Sepsis

There is no specific therapy for sepsis. The burden of sepsis is underlined by the fact that it causes millions of deaths globally each year. Sepsis occurs in one to two percent of all hospitalizations and accounts for as much as 25 percent of ICU bed utilization.

Sepsis studies at the Critical Illness and Injury Research Centre span a spectrum of research from patient-centred studies that seek to understand the best care of patients in our critical care units here at St. Michael’s, to whole animal and cell models of infection and inflammation. Our researchers use experimental approaches that range from cell biology to population science. We use such methods as immune phenotyping, molecular biology and high throughput transcriptional, epigenetic and genomic analysis, as well as various imaging and biochemical approaches to understand the fundamental mechanisms of inflammation, immune regulation and sepsis-induced organ failure.

Much emphasis is also placed on understanding anti-inflammatory and repair processes. In addition, the centre is committed to prevention and pandemic preparedness by being the Canadian home for InFACT – an international network of investigator-led research groups committed to finding new ways to conduct high-quality, globally collaborative research in real time aimed at limiting and containing life-threatening pandemics. St. Michael’s sepsis researchers are leaders in their field, combining visionary thinking with cutting-edge technology and expertise to seek better approaches to care for the most vulnerable patients in our health care system.

Explore Our Research

Our group of sepsis investigators has multiple active research programs that are taking novel approaches to the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of sepsis.


  • DYNAMICS: (DNA as Prognostic Marker in ICU patients study)
  • Human Umbilical Cord PeriVascular Cells (HUCPVCs) for the treatment of Experimental Sepsis
  • Mechanisms of Protection and Informed Target Discovery for Gene and Stem Cell Therapy in Sepsis


The International Forum for Acute Care Trialists (InFACT) was launched in 2008 as a network of investigator-led clinical research groups and academic institutions whose focus is the optimal care of critically ill children and adults. Our members include some two dozen such organizations from around the world, spanning a spectrum of research foci, structural formality, and experience.

InFACT was launched to support the activities of its member groups by:

  • Addressing research challenges and needs that are common to researchers around the world
  • Providing an informal forum to promote collegiality and collaboration between and among its members
  • Linking acute care clinical sites around the world to facilitate global collaboration in research, public health activities, and education
  • Raising the profile of investigator-led acute care research with funding bodies, health care policy and decision-makers, and the general public

For more information on InFACT, check out our website