Deborah Cook is behind one of seven McMaster-led research projects that have received a total of $61 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), to advance medical research, training and innovation.

McMaster University researcher Deborah Cook is receiving an additional $1.9 million in federal funding to complete an ongoing global trial to test the effectiveness of an ulcer-suppressing drug in patients in the intensive care unit (ICU).

Cook’s clinical trial is examining whether acid suppression using pantoprazole is effective in preventing ulcers and related stomach bleeding, in people on breathing machines. It is also investigating the risk of potentially life-threatening complications associated with the drug.

In total, 4,800 patients are being recruited from 65 ICUs in Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Pakistan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The funding for Cook’s research was announced by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Filomena Tassi, Minister of the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario on Jan. 19.

“This will be the largest trial to date on this topic and results will inform clinical practice worldwide,” said Cook, a Distinguished University Professor of medicine at McMaster and a critical care physician at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.

“Acid suppression can be potentially beneficial but also potentially harmful for patients in the ICU, linked to lung infections like pneumonia and bowel complications such as Clostridioides difficile, which as its name suggests can be notoriously tough to treat. Additionally, some studies have suggested an increased risk of death in the most seriously ill patients who receive acid suppression.”

Cook said that investigations on this topic have spanned several decades, but new evidence is needed to align with modern critical care practices such as better resuscitation and earlier feeding.

As founder of the Canadian Critical Care Trials Group which leads this trial, Cook acknowledged the key contributions to this topic by early career, mid career and senior McMaster investigators in past years up to the present day.

“Advocating for the best evidence for our patients, we need to make sure that engrained practices truly do more good than harm,” said Cook.

“The scope of a study such as this relies on patients and their families, open-minded clinicians, careful oversight, and scientists who can commit for the long haul.” 

Related stories:
McMaster researchers receive $61 million from CIHR to advance health research

Meet the seven McMaster researchers conducting pioneering research supported by significant federal funding
Accessibility for Ontarians With Disabilities Act (AODA)


The Faculty of Health Sciences is committed to providing a website that is accessible to the widest possible audience. If there is an accessibility issue with this website, please contact us at