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Margaret Herridge, MSc, MD, MPH

When Margaret Herridge, MSc, MD, MPH, talks about her career, she talks about those colleagues who have so graciously encouraged and mentored her, those with whom she’s collaborated in her research, and the pivotal role that the ATS has played in her career development. Dr. Herridge traces some relationships back to her first ATS international conference, which also happened to be the first medical conference she attended as a young researcher. Within the ATS, Dr. Herridge found a culture of generosity and inclusivity: Iasha Sznajder, MD, for example, reached out early in Dr. Herridge’s career, and strongly encouraged her interest in ICU/ARDS long-term outcomes research.  Amal Jubran, MD, invited her to be on the Critical Care (CC) Assembly Program Committee in 2000, just three years after she became staff at the University of Toronto, and Jesse Hall, MD, encouraged her leadership in Clinical Year in Review and on the CC Assembly Nominating Committee. These relationships fundamentally shaped her perspective, she says, making her ever cognizant that we are “travelers” making a finite contribution to our field before passing those insights and opportunities to the next generation, thus sustaining the vitality of our research agendas and professional organizations.

Dr. Herridge transitioned from graduate studies in cell and molecular biology to medicine. Two early mentors at Queen’s University medical school, Susan Moffatt, MD, and Ronald Wigle, MD, persuaded her to explore pulmonary medicine. This evolved into a focused interest. She found critical care not long after, which provided a new challenge and also offered her more time flexibility for her three children, as well as to develop her ICU Outcomes research program. With the support of Arthur Slutsky, MD, MSc, the chair of Critical Care at the University of Toronto, and other Senior Toronto Pulmonary medicine mentors including Michael Hutcheon MD, Charles Chan, MD, and Greg Downey, MD, she travelled to Boston after her clinical training and completed her MPH in clinical epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in conjunction with a research fellowship at the Channing Laboratory. She remains indebted to her Channing mentors Frank Speizer, MD, and Scott Weiss, MD, and the example of the Nurses’ Health Study and the powerful public health impact that may be gleaned from long-term cohort studies; and also Jeff Drazen, MD, then the head of Critical Care at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who also strongly encouraged her interest in ARDS/ICU Outcomes work.

Today, Dr. Herridge is Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Toronto, a senior scientist and full-time Intensivist in the Medical-Surgical Intensive Care Unit at the University Health Network, and director of Critical Care research for the Interdepartmental Division of Critical Care Medicine at the University of Toronto. She is also a senior member of the Canadian Critical Care Trials Group. She is passionate about working in the inter-professional environment of the ICU and its rich opportunities to deliver complex medical care and for opportunities for patient and family engagement.  She especially enjoys her interactions with ICU patients and families as their experiences help to inform her group’s ICU outcomes research agenda. Over the course of her career, Dr. Herridge has seen the ICUs deliver care to an increasingly older and medically complex patient population and has witnessed the development of more experimental, innovative and higher risk medical and surgical interventions.  She feels that the ICU outcomes agenda, with its burgeoning community of wonderfully engaged partners and high profile programs across the international critical care community, is more relevant than ever. It is particularly relevant as clinicians strive to educate our patients and families about what it means for them to experience and recover from critical illness and help them to be fully engaged in developing their goals for treatment. She and her group are actively embracing the construct of a”continuum of care approach,“  during and after an episode of critical illness. She is encouraged by a greater prioritization and investment in ICU translational research, as observations from clinical studies are used to inform and understand mechanism, which leads to novel treatment and improved outcomes.  Dr. Herridge cites the important work of so many other early ICU Outcomes researchers and how this area of research has evolved to become a very mainstream interest over the past 20 to 25 years and has helped to elucidate the constellation and complexity of functional and neuropsychological morbidities sustained by patients and also the mental health challenges experienced by families after critical illness.

Following the completion of her group’s 5-year ARDS Outcomes Program and One-year SARS Outcome study, Dr. Herridge embarked on the Canadian multi-center RECOVER program in 2007 in collaboration with the Canadian Critical Care Trials Group. RECOVER is working to establish a national care pathway for patients and families after critical illness as a new standard of practice. Its goal is to optimize care during and after an episode of critical illness and to provide seamless healthcare transitions and integration back to the community. Dr. Herridge had early inspiration for this work through an early  introduction to the ATS Public Advisory Round table. Roy Brower, MD, and B. Taylor Thompson, MD, also generous early supporters, invited Dr. Herridge to attend a Public Advisory Roundtable session. There, Dr. Herridge met Ms. Eileen Rubin, a survivor of ARDS who was the lead of the newly formed ARDS Foundation, and with whom she’s still in touch today. The Public Advisory Roundtable has always been a potent reminder of the patient experience, and has inspired her to keep her work patient- and family-centered.

When Dr. Herridge isn’t working, she enjoys collecting jazz vinyls and listening to them with her husband Rob Stewart, MD. She also enjoys cooking with him and their three children- especially for family, friends and colleagues. Dr. Herridge attends the ATS International conference every year to connect with colleagues and friends and is extremely grateful for the privilege of being part of the ATS community and contributing to its agenda on patient and family outcomes after critical illness.