Crohn’s and Colitis Canada provides over $2.8 million in 2019 research grants

Meet the 2019 Research Grant Recipients

Eleven urgent projects seek answers to escalating burden of disease across the country

TORONTO, August 6, 2019 – Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, one of the world’s leading non-governmental funders of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis research, announces over $2.8 million in grants to eleven Canadian investigators and their teams.

These annual research grants, which are funded entirely by donors, fuel the most promising projects to deliver new therapeutic hope for the 270,000 Canadians living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – a number set to top 400,000 by 2030. 

“Canada has among the highest rates of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in the world and we are determined to drive discovery, the only way to prevent and cure these chronic and debilitating diseases,” says Mina Mawani, President and CEO of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. “Next to CIHR, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada invests the greatest amount in Canadian IBD research – high-potential work that enables our organization to improve lives and relentlessly press forward toward finding the cures.”  

While taking a $2.6 billion annual toll on the Canadian economy, IBD impedes quality of life for those who live with it; in fact, patients are at twice the risk of depression and anxiety disorders as the general population. Rates of IBD in older adults are climbing the fastest, and rates among children have risen more than 50 per cent in the past 10 years – with treatment challenges unique to both groups. 

In a bid to confront this challenge, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada delivers grants-in-aid at $125,000 each year for three years, and innovation awards at $50,000 for one year. 

“Our competition is open to all types of research, and a collective review team built with scientific experts, nurses, and people living with IBD ensures that we direct funding to the most promising projects for real impact,” says Kate Lee, Vice-President of Research and Patient Programs. “These eleven projects bring diverse strategies to the table for driving new therapies and diagnostics – and we have our donors to thank for funding them.” 

2019 Grants-in-Aid of Research Award Recipients:

  • Dr. Laura Sly, University of British Columbia: Through multiple studies, Dr. Sly will test a new drug’s ability to stop Crohn’s inflammation in cases where the “SHIP” protein is low – a patient base for whom there are no effective treatments.
  • Dr. Carolina Tropini, University of British Columbia: By analyzing how bacteria respond to and change their environment, Dr. Tropini will develop algorithms to predict the state of IBD and the effectiveness of drugs – with an eye to new therapies that restore a healthy gut.
  • Dr. Bruce Vallance, Children's and Women's Health Centre of British Columbia: After identifying a dangerous bacteria in the intestines of many people with ulcerative colitis, Dr. Vallance will define how these bacteria cause inflammation and identify new drug targets to clear these bacteria away.
  • Dr. Stephen Vanner, Queen’s University: Using two novel strategies, Dr. Vanner will study targeted opioid delivery to neurons in the gut in an effort to bring new treatments to relieve IBD stomach pain – a great unmet need reported by patients – with minimal or no side effects.
  • Dr. Elena Verdu, McMaster University: By targeting bacterial enzymes known to cause inflammation, Dr. Verdu aims to design new microbiome-based therapies for ulcerative colitis – possibly in the form of probiotics – and strategies to improve fecal transplantation. 
  • Dr. Pierre-Yves von der Weid, University of Calgary: Opening a potential door to immune-based treatments for Crohn’s, Dr. von der Weid will test whether a dysfunctional lymphatic system impairs the immune response in the gut and perpetuates inflammation. 
  • Dr. Robert Young, Simon Fraser University: In search of a much-needed drug to safely repair and protect the gut lining in IBD, Dr. Young will prepare and test novel “prodrugs” to do just that by releasing the active drug directly where needed. 
2019 Innovations in IBD Research Award Recipients:
  • Dr. Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Université de Sherbrook: Assessing IBD remains a clinical challenge, and Dr. Beaulieu will test a new strategy that uses mass spectrometry to analyze stool samples from patients to identify new biomarkers for IBD.
  • Dr. Harry Brumer, University of British Columbia: Certain peptides are promising new therapies for IBD but we need better, more effective ways to deliver them to the gut – Dr. Brumer is developing a “glyco-caged” version of the peptide that can be unlocked only by certain enzymes produced by gut-specific bacteria.
  • Dr. Jean Sévigny, Université Laval: By targeting certain molecules linked to inflammation in the gut, Dr. Sévigny seeks to create a novel IBD treatment in the “NTPDase8” enzyme, which appears to prevent colitis by stopping this inflammatory pathway.
  • Dr. Sara Ahola Kohut, Hospital for Sick Children: To support the often-overlooked needs of parents whose children live with IBD, and in turn those young patients’ health and well-being, Dr. Kohut will measure the impact of a new online workshop series called “Acceptance and Commitment Training.” 
Visit Funded Research to learn more about this year’s grant recipients.

About Crohn’s and Colitis Canada

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is the only national, volunteer-based charity focused on finding cures for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and improving the lives of everyone impacted by these diseases. We are the world’s second largest health charity funder of Crohn’s and colitis research, and our patient programs and advocacy efforts support the people affected by these chronic autoimmune diseases, which cause the body to attack healthy tissue, leading to the inflammation of all or part of the gastrointestinal tract. Visit for more information.



For media inquiries, please contact:

Stacey Sheehan
Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Crohn’s and Colitis Canada
416-920-5035 ext. 243

  • 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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