Peter Dobranowski: Paying it Forward

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Each year, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada brings together experts for the annual Meeting of the Minds conference for researchers, gastroenterologists, nurses and allied health professionals to collaborate, share best practices, the latest research and in recognizing leaders through a number of awards.

We invited Peter Dobranowski to attend the 2022 conference in Toronto. Peter had a unique perspective of the importance of bringing the community together to share the latest information.

When he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at 15, Peter Dobranowski never dreamed he would end up on the path he is now. His experience demonstrates how this disease and our community can have a profound and far-reaching impact on someone’s journey.

As a teenager, Peter hid his symptoms – he felt different, alone, and weak. He began to make decisions about his future based on his disease and how he could manage it.

Then Peter began attending and volunteering with the B.C. chapter of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. He was awed by the electrifying experience of talking with others with the same lived experience. As President of the chapter, he based his term on his desire to build on the support he felt in that community. “Until then, I had no frame of reference. Even my recovery and returning to what I’d given up – it felt like I was trailblazing, that I was alone,” Peter said. “Sharing my experience with others suddenly made me realize what I had been missing all along.”

As a researcher, it was highly motivating to see the latest research, meet the giants in the field and get a better sense of where we’ve been and where we’re going. I am excited that people smarter than me are dedicated to finding new treatments for the future. As a patient and a volunteer, it inspired me with hope – hope for more treatments, a better understanding of the causes and complexities of this disease, and more attention on mental health and our community, where people will feel less alone.

- Peter Dobranowski

With support and the right medication, Peter has continued his studies, propelled by a passion to understand and treat the disease. He received the AbbVie IBD Scholarship in 2019 for his Master’s program. And the leadership qualities he developed at Crohn’s and Colitis Canada helped make him a successful candidate for the Vanier Scholarship to fund a PhD program at the University of Ottawa.

“My project is translational, and I chose that purposefully. If we can better understand the microbiome in our gut and its association with the disease, and if we can correct that microbiome, then we’ll have found another way to treat this disease without all the side-effects,” Peter said.

Learn how the Crohn's and Colitis Canada COVID-19 and IBD task force played a pivotol role in helping patients during the pandemic >

  • 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.

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