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Meet Dr. Peter Kiiza: part of the team researching COVID-19 treatments at Sunnybrook

November 23, 2020


Dr. Peter Kiiza, a general physician and researcher from Uganda, is part of the Sunnybrook team that is fighting COVID-19.

Dr. Kiiza’s connection to Canada began in 2014 when he met Dr. Robert Fowler, chief of Sunnybrook’s Tory Trauma Program. The two were working with the World Health Organization’s case management team and supported the Ministry of Health of Sierra Leone in West Africa to provide aid and management of Ebola infected patients during the outbreak. Dr. Fowler saw a great deal of passion and promise in the young doctor. So much so that when he and Dr. Neill Adhikari began an Ebola critical care project funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), they asked if Dr. Kiiza would be interested in conducting research in Canada.

“I came to Sunnybrook about two and a half years ago to help with a research study on establishing the safety and feasibility of providing critical care to patients with Ebola,” says Dr. Kiiza. “Through the design of a simulated Ebola treatment unit we are exploring how differences in task complexity and environmental conditions may influence delivery of care.”

The Ebola study is part of a CIHR-funded trial under the Tory Trauma Program; however, COVID-19 put a pause on that work and he has switched focus to research the novel coronavirus with Dr. Fowler’s team. “We’re researching medicines that could make a difference in patients with COVID-19,” says Dr. Kiiza.

As a result of the great work Dr. Kiiza has done, he received a full scholarship for graduate school at Emory University in Atlanta. He’s able to continue working at Sunnybrook while doing his studies virtually at night and on the weekends. “It’s good to be busy at this time. I have two more years before I complete my Masters in Public Health (Global Epidemiology.)”

“Peter is such a terrific colleague and person,” says Dr. Rob Fowler. “He has deep experience in serious viral outbreaks in Uganda and in West Africa, and has been a wonderful member of the Sunnybrook team on our Ebola and COVID-19 research. Being able to start his graduate training at Emory, while staying in Toronto, is great for everybody!”

Earning his PhD is next on Dr. Kiiza’s list. “I want my work to have an impact on patient care, and I also want to help build critical care capacity in my home country.”

When asked about what it’s been like working during the pandemic, Dr. Kiiza says, “I feel privileged. I have the opportunity to work toward solutions for COVID-19, and to potentially help people affected by the virus. Working on the Ebola crisis in West Africa has equipped me in some ways for this situation. I feel it’s given me strength to deal with the pandemic, and I know that we will all get through this.”

Learn more about COVID-19 research at Sunnybrook »