Dr. David Maslove on bringing precision medicine to the ICU

Dr. David Maslove is a SEAMO clinician scientist, associate professor in the Departments of Medicine andHeadshot of Dr. David Maslove Critical Care Medicine, and internist and intensivist at Kingston Health Sciences Centre. For his part, Dr. Maslove says his academic interest is in bringing precision medicine to the ICU. “My research is focused on critical care – specifically in the area of precision critical care,” he explains. “Precision medicine is loosely described as identifying specific pathological traits in patients and targeting treatments to those traits to get efficient and personalized care for them.” Dr. Maslove says his specialty of Critical Care Medicine lends itself well to the introduction of precision medicine. “The diseases we treat are heterogenous in nature and every patient with critical illnesses is different in subtle ways, so identifying those differences and leveraging them with precise therapies is what I work towards.”

In June 2022, Dr. Maslove, along with an international group of collaborators, published an article in Nature Medicine titled “Redefining critical illness” that received very positive feedback. Dr. Maslove says the article pointed to the hope of identifying how every patient is unique. “Our vision for the future is to develop methods and technologies to identify those unique differences and capitalize on them to deliver precision medicine,” he explains. “One of the things we’re working on now is to use state-of-the-art techniques to look at the white blood cells of patients who have had severe infections in the ICU in order to identify differences between them to see if they are more or less amenable to certain treatments. This work is ongoing.” 

Hearing about working in the ICU, Dr. Maslove says it is easy to think Critical Care Medicine is about technologies and machines that make up life support for failing organs. “While it’s true we rely on those techniques from time to time, for me it’s much more about the multidisciplinary team that looks after a patient on a constant and continuous basis,” he describes. “There’s a view that it’s about machines and technology, but for me, it’s much more the team and care environment that distinguishes the ICU – we have fewer patients for each nurse, patients get more regular monitoring, and we work in a multidisciplinary team that works closely to provide care.” 

Dr. Maslove’s goal as a clinician scientist is to provide the most personalized care to patients possible. “I hope the vision of precise, personalized care will come to fruition so we can give patients tailored care to benefit them specifically and avoid harmful therapies. That would be transformative for our ICU in Kingston, and for ICUs elsewhere, and it’s great to work on this problem here, learning from colleagues and collaborators also working in this area” he says. “I’m honoured to work with this team and proud of our ICU for continuing to provide outstanding care after challenging years in our field. We strive every day on multiple fronts to improve that care and make it as effective as possible.”