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Dr. Russell did his AB at Princeton University, MD at University of Toronto (U of T), residency in Internal Medicine at U of T and Fellowship in Critical Care Medicine and research training at University of California, San Francisco. He was Director, Medical ICU TGH, before being recruited as Director, Medical Surgical ICU, St. Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver, Canada. He was Chair of Medicine at St. Paul’s and Head of the Division of Critical Care Medicine for University of British Columbia (UBC). Dr. Russell is Professor of Medicine at UBC, a Principal Investigator at the UBC-affiliated Centre for Heart Lung Innovation (HLI).

Dr. Russell’s research themes are (1) genomics and pharmacogenomics and (2) randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in septic shock. His expertise was recognized by an invited review, “Management of Sepsis” in the New England Journal of Medicine(1) and many other sepsis reviews. Dr. Russell focuses on vasopressin and vasopressin derivatives for septic shock. He lead the VASST trial (NEJM(2)) that lead to over 50 vasopressin-related publications(3-6). His vasopressin research was foundational to development of a vasopressin derivative – the V1a specific agonist selepressin. Dr. Russell has over 450 publications (225 peer-review publications).

1.        Genomics and Pharmacogenomics of Septic Shock
Dr. Russell’s research on genomics of septic shock(7) includes discoveries of genetic variants (single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)) of coagulation, inflammatory and innate immunity genes in septic shock. Dr. Russell has held grants for genomics from CIHR to study susceptibility genes in sepsis, ARDS (grants from BC Lung Association, Providence Health Care) and acute lung injury (NIH SCCOR/University of Washington).

Dr. Russell also has an active research program in pharmacogenomics of septic shock. We identified predictive biomarkers that predict response to therapies including norepinephrine(8), angiotensin-II(9), activated protein C(10, 11), anti-inflammatory agents(12), vasopressin(13) and anti-PCSK9(14-16). We completed and are reporting the largest pharmacogenomic trial of any therapy in septic shock, a multicenter pharmacogenomic biomarker study of activated protein C in sepsis.

2.        Clinical Trials in Septic Shock
Dr. Russell has lead randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in sepsis, septic shock, ARDS, and ALI including vasopressin in septic shock (CIHR funded), ibuprofen (NIH grant-funded), antioxidants, IL-1ra, anti-TNF, interleukin-10, tissue factor pathway inhibitor, and activated protein C. He was Principal Investigator of a CIHR-funded multicentre RCT of vasopressin vs. norepinephrine in septic shock (VASST)(2-4) The VASST study is cited in the 2008 and 2013 international sepsis treatment guidelines.

The activity of vasopressin can be improved by using a selective V1a agonist, selepressin. Dr. Russell was PI of a Phase 2A proof-of-principle RCT of selepressin in septic shock (Sponsor Ferring)(17).  Selepressin decreased fluid overload in pre-clinical studies (18-20) and in the RCT; selepressin also decreased need for vasopressors and ventilation(17).