Dr. Rob Green

Dr. Rob Green

Dr. Rob Green

Neuroscience, Cardiovascular, Molly Appeal

Putting away the crystal ball:
Dr. Rob Green seeks more accurate tools for predicting outcomes in critical care

When a trauma patient is on life support, in a coma, it’s extremely difficult for doctors to predict how they will fare. Is there a chance for a meaningful recovery, or will this person be severely disabled—with no independence or quality of life—if they survive?

This is the great mystery trauma and critical care specialist Dr. Rob Green wants to solve, so clinicians and families can make informed decisions about what interventions to provide, and for how long, to patients in such critical condition.

“We need better tools for predicting how patients with severe trauma will do, so we can let families know what to expect and work with them to make the right decisions,” says Dr. Green, a professor in the departments of Critical Care, Emergency Medicine and Surgery at Dalhousie Medical School and medical director of Trauma Nova Scotia. “These are tough situations and we need more reliable information than we can currently gain through bloodwork, CT scans, brain stimulation, and MRIs, to know if we should keep going, or if it is time to let go.”

Dr. Green is launching a collaborative cross-country research program to develop accurate, objective ways of predicting how different people will respond to various injuries and treatments, with what likely outcomes. This work—which will involve Trauma New Brunswick—will rely heavily on the Orbitrap Fusion, sophisticated new mass spectrometry equipment to be purchased through Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation’s 2019 fall Molly Appeal.

“The mass spectrometer will allow us to identify and measure molecules produced in the body in response to certain injuries,” explains Dr. Green, who is working closely with Dalhousie mass spectrometry expert, Dr. James Fawcett, on this project. “As we gather data on thousands of patients, we will be able to identify injury patterns based on these trauma markers. From there, we can develop mathematical models that will enable us to predict how a person will do and what interventions will be most effective.”

For Dr. Green, research is about pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved. “I’ve been inspired by the promise of research since my earliest days at Dalhousie Medical School,” he says. “I tend to focus a critical eye towards why we do things and how we can do better.”

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