Studying the immune response of COVID-19 patients in the ICU

June 4, 2020

Dr. Shirley MeiDr. Shirley MeiResearchers at The Ottawa Hospital are exploring more than 50 research projects to support the world-wide effort to find better ways to treat and prevent COVID-19.  

The Ottawa Hospital Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund is providing seed funding for a number of these projects, including a study led by Dr. Shirley Mei that will examine why some people get severely ill and die of COVID-19, while others experience only mild symptoms.  

Part of the answer may lie in how an individual’s immune system reacts (and sometimes over-reacts) to the COVID-19 virus.  

Dr. Mei and her intensive care research colleagues will study this in critically ill COVID-19 patients using the world’s most advanced “single-cell proteomics” technology. This technology, called CyTOF, will allow the researchers to study up to 60 different biological factors all at the same time from one single cell. The researchers will create a multi-dimensional map of the immune response to COVID-19, showing how it changes over time and how it sometimes goes out of control.  

The data will be shared with clinicians and researchers around the world, in order to improve treatment of COVID-19 and save lives.  


The Ottawa Hospital is a leading academic health, research and learning hospital proudly affiliated with the University of Ottawa.   

Media Contact 

Amelia Buchanan 

Senior Communication Specialist 

Ottawa Hospital Research Institute 

Office: 613-798-5555 x 73687 

Cell: 613-297-8315