Task Force

On March 12, 2020, the Scientific and Medical Advisory Council and COVID-19 and IBD Task Force of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada met via teleconference to discuss how people living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and their caregivers should manage their disease in the setting of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada has made these recommendations for two reasons:
  1. To reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the general population.
  2. To directly protect the most vulnerable people, including the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. Patients with IBD on medications that suppress the immune system (immunosuppressive) may be at risk for more severe infection.
The COVID-19 and IBD Task Force includes:
Members Institution
Gil Kaplan, MD, MPH, FRCPC (Past-Chair, SMAC) Professor of Medicine, University of Calgary Adult Gastroenterologist & Epidemiologist
Eric Benchimol, MD, PhD, FRCPC
(Chair, SMAC)
Professor, University of Toronto
Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
Hospital for Sick Children
Lisa Barrett, MD, PhD, FRCPC Clinician Scientist, Infectious Diseases NSHA/Dalhousie University
Charles Bernstein, MD, FRCPC Distinguished Professor of Medicine Head, Section of Gastroenterology
Program Director, Gastroenterology Postgraduate Training Program
Director, University of Manitoba Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinical and Research Centre University of Manitoba
Marc Bradette, MD, FRCPC, CSPQ Gastroenterologist, Clinical Professor, Department of Gastroenterology, Pavillon Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, Incoming President of QC GI Association (AGEQ)
Usha Chauhan, NP (Member, SMAC) Nurse Practitioner at McMaster University Medical Centre, GI clinic CANIBD Co-founder and Steering Committee Member
Sharyle Fowler, MD, FRCPC Assistant Professor, Gastroenterology and Hepatology University of Saskatchewan
Jean-Eric Ghia, PhD (Member, SMAC) Associate Professor, Department of Immunology, Department of Internal Medicine Section of Gastroenterology, University of Manitoba
Director, Gastrointestinal Basic Biology Research, IBD Clinical & Research Centre Children Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba
Deanna Gibson, PhD (Member, SMAC) Associate Professor, Biology
University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus
Anne Griffiths, MD, FRCPC (Member, SMAC) Professor, Paediatrics, University of Toronto Chair, SickKids Research Institute
Northbridge Chair in Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Director of the IBD Program, The Hospital for Sick Children
Jennifer Jones, MD, MSc, FRCPC (Member, SMAC) Associate Professor
Departments of Medicine & Clinical Health and Epidemiology Team Lead, Multidisciplinary IBD Clinical & Research Program Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre
Dalhousie University
Ellen Kuenzig, PhD Senior Research Associate, Epidemiologist, Inflammatory Bowel Disease Centre, SickKids Hospital, Person living with IBD
Reena Khanna, MD, MSc, FRCPC (Member, SMAC) Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Western Ontario Clinician Researcher in the Program for Experimental Medicine
Peter Lakatos, MD Director of IBD Centre
McGill University Health Centre Professor, Department of Medicine McGill University
David Mack, MD, FRCPC (Member, SMAC) Professor and Chief, Department of Pediatrics, University of Ottawa Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute
John Marshall, MD, MSc, FRCPC, AGAF Professor, Department of Medicine Director, Division of Gastroenterology McMaster University
Remo Panaccione, MD, FRCPC Professor, Department of Medicine Director, Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinic Director, Gastrointestinal Research University of Calgary
Abdu A. Sharkawy MD, BMSc, FRCPC Assistant Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, University Health Network, Toronto Western Hospital
Cynthia Seow, MBBS, MSc, FRACP Pregnancy and IBD Specialist, Associate Professor, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Departments of Medicine and Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary
Laura Targownik,MD, MSHS, FRCPC
(Member, SMAC)
Associate Professor of Medicine
Departmental Division Director (Gastroenterology), University of Toronto Chair for Diversity and Equity, Canadian Association of Gastroenterology Staff Gastroenterologist, Mount Sinai Hospital
Sandra Zelinsky Patient Advisor
Kate Lee, PhD, MBA          VP, Research and Patient Programs, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada
Angie Specic, MBA VP, Marketing and Communications, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada

Dr Benchimol and Dr Kaplan photos

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  • Canada has among the highest incidence rates of Crohn's and colitis in the world.
  • 1 in 140 Canadians lives with Crohn’s or colitis.
  • Families new to Canada are developing these diseases for the first time.
  • Incidence of Crohn’s in Canadian kids under 10 has doubled since 1995.
  • People are most commonly diagnosed before age 30.