Crohn’s and Colitis Canada Awards $2.5 Million to Canadian Inflammatory Bowel Disease Researchers Through the Grants-in-Aid of Research Competition

Image of Dr. Jean-Eric Ghia with copy stating new funded research announcement

Inflammatory bowel disease researchers from across the country receive vital funding that supports projects investigating Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis

Toronto, ON – September 14, 2021 – Committed to advancing discovery, translational and clinical research that supports the 300,000 Canadians living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is pleased to award a total of $2.5 million in new research grants through its Grants-in-Aid of Research competition to eight principal investigators and their teams. 

Researchers estimate the number of Canadians living with Crohn’s or colitis – the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – will rise to 400,000 by 2030, and many individuals living with IBD are diagnosed with one or more immune mediated inflammatory diseases. Seniors are the fastest growing group with IBD and the number of children diagnosed has risen more than 50% in the past 15 years. These alarming statistics and the estimated direct annual cost of caring for Canadians with IBD estimated at $1.28 billion highlight the urgent need to invest in research that advances prevention, treatment options, and quality of life.
As one of the top two health charity funders of Crohn’s and colitis research in the world, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada awards grants to early career and seasoned investigators from across Canada who work in the field of IBD research. The annual Grants-in-Aid of Research competition, which awards $125,000 a year for three years, supports innovative projects that align with Crohn’s and Colitis Canada’s mission to discover cures and improve quality of life for Canadians facing the chronic diseases.

“These eight projects will lead us to new scientific insights about the triggers of these complex diseases and how to evolve treatments and patient care, which is critical as every person living with Crohn’s or colitis has their own unique needs,” says Lori Radke, President and CEO of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. “The past year has proven to be challenging for the charity sector, which makes us even more pleased to be able to grow our investment in research. With the addition of these eight projects, we’re proud to share that we’re currently funding twenty-four projects through our Grants-in-Aid of Research and Innovations in IBD program. We are grateful for the continued support from our donors and volunteers who lead fundraising events, such as our Gutsy Walk, as their efforts enable us to broaden the research portfolio that we can fund.”

The recipients of the 2021 Grants-in-Aid of Research grant include:

  • Dr. Kirk Bergstrom, University of British Columbia: Dr. Bergstrom’s research will advance our understanding of how sialic acid promotes protection of the gut from colitis. The results of this study will help identify new pathways to prevent or treat chronic diseases like colitis.
  • Dr. Alberto Caminero, McMaster University: Dr. Caminero's research will advance our understanding of how gut microbes cause food intolerances in IBD. This is a vital step that will lead to the discovery of probiotics for IBD patients with food intolerances.
  • Dr. Jean-Eric Ghia, University of Manitoba: Dr. Ghia’s research will advance our understanding of how specific proteins regulate inflammation and imbalance of gut microbes that eventually lead to colitis. 
  • Dr. Karen Madsen, University of Alberta: Dr. Madsen’s research will explore the effects of Empagliflozin in immune cells from IBD patients. The results of the study will provide evidence on whether Empagliflozin can be used to treat IBD as a novel therapeutic agent.
  • Dr. Geoffrey Nguyen, Sinai Health System (Mount Sinai): Dr. Nguyen’s research will explore whether the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes have decreased in women with IBD over time. The findings of this study will allow researchers and clinicians to determine ways of standardizing pregnancy care in women with IBD.
  • Dr. Amanda Ricciuto, The Hospital for Sick Children: Dr. Ricciuto's research will advance our understanding of long-term health outcomes and health services utilization in patients with a complication of IBD called primary sclerosing cholangitis. The study will help inform resource allocation and patient counselling activities.
  • Dr. Jean Sévigny, Université Laval: Dr. Sévigny’s research will test pathways to reduce chronic inflammation in the gut that may lead to a novel IBD treatment envisioned as a pill that would be more economical and practical for patients than current immunotherapies.
  • Dr. Theodore Steiner, University of British Columbia: Dr. Steiner aims to understand the changes that take place in damaged gut cells and how they compare to the permanent changes seen in people with IBD. The results of this study will aid in the testing of new drugs and other treatment options for IBD.
“As a junior investigator working in IBD research, this grant from Crohn’s and Colitis Canada will greatly help in getting my research program off the ground and will serve as a springboard toward future research endeavours. This grant will allow us to bring together pediatric and adult IBD experts from across Canada to better understand and treat IBD patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis – an incredibly important, yet unmet need in the IBD community,” says Dr. Amanda Ricciuto, Staff Gastroenterologist and Scientist-Track Investigator in Child Health and Evaluative Sciences at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Toronto.

To learn more about the annual grant competition and the recipients, please visit

About Crohn’s and Colitis Canada

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is on a relentless journey to find the cures for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and improve the lives of children and adults affected by these chronic diseases. We are the country’s largest volunteer-based organization with this mission and are one of the top two health charity funders of Crohn’s and colitis research in the world, investing over $135 million in research to date. We are transforming the lives of people affected by Crohn’s and colitis through research, patient programs, advocacy, and awareness. For more information, visit and follow us @getgutsycanada on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


For media inquiries, please contact:

Angie Specic
VP, Marketing and Communications
Crohn’s and Colitis Canada
416-920-5035 x 210

  • 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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