September 15, 2022 – 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 $3.15 million in new research grants through its Grants-in-Aid of Research competition to eleven 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. 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 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.
Crohn’s and Colitis Canada awards grants to 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 promise to discover cures and improve quality of life for Canadians facing the chronic diseases.
“As a critical contributor towards enabling and advancing research, we are pleased to be able to grow our investment by funding eleven new projects along with the eighteen projects already supported through our Grants-in-Aid of Research and Innovations in IBD program, says Lori Radke, President and CEO of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. “These research 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. 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 2022 Grants-in-Aid of Research include:
- Dr. Bruce Vallance, University of British Columbia: Dr. Vallance’s team seeks to understand how E. coli infect ulcerative colitis patients and what mechanisms it uses to bypass the normal protective barriers in the colon. They will be conducting studies in mice and patient-derived mini-guts. This study will further improve our understanding of the causes of ulcerative colitis.
- Dr. Markus Geuking, University of Calgary: Dr. Geuking’s study will investigate how shared antigenic structures between the intestinal microbes and systemic viral infections affect colitis.
- Dr. Farhad Peerani, University of Alberta: Dr. Peerani’s study aims to understand the differences in immune mechanisms that cause ulcerative colitis. This study will increase our understanding of colitis and assist in better management of the condition.
- Dr. Jean-Eric Ghia, University of Manitoba: Dr. Ghia and his team aim to study the effects of a protein (follicular dendritic cell secreted protein) in regulating inflammation, the immune system and the gut microbes and their impact in the development of ulcerative colitis.
- Dr. Eileen Crowley, London Health Sciences Centre: Dr. Crowley's study aims to understand how many patients live with both IBD and inflammatory arthritis and how they use healthcare services. The outcomes of the study will help improve quality of life and patient services for this understudied group of IBD patients.
- Dr. Kenneth Croitoru, University of Toronto: Dr. Croitoru aims to identify the bacteria present in the gut during early onset of Crohn’s disease. The outcomes of this study will assist in the development of new targets to treat or prevent Crohn’s disease.
- Dr. Stephen Girardin, University of Toronto: Dr. Girardin aims to understand the role and mechanism of two proteins in the gut that are responsible for protecting the intestine from harmful bacteria. The outcomes of this study will be critical when designing novel strategies for Crohn’s disease.
- Dr. Dana Philpott, University of Toronto: Dr. Philpott and her team plan to further investigate the interplay between the causes of Crohn’s disease and type-2 diabetes in order to improve care in the future for IBD patients with complications.
- Dr. David Lohnes, University of Ottawa: Dr. Lohnes and his team plan to expand their research to further understand the causes of ulcerative colitis using new models in the lab.
- Dr. Fernand-Pierre Gendron, Université de Sherbrooke: Dr. Gendron’s study aims to explore a lesser-known protein found in the human gut that may lead to novel treatments for IBD by promoting the healing of gut cells.
- Dr. Jennifer Jones, Nova Scotia Health Authority/Dalhousie University: Dr. Jones and her team aim to improve access to evidence-based support for psychological distress among people living with IBD through the ‘IBD Strong Peer2Peer’ program. The results from this study will help improve mental health programs for adults living with IBD.
To learn more about the annual grant competition and the recipients, please visit crohnsandcolitis.ca.
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 everyone affected by these chronic diseases. Collectively with the support of volunteers, researchers, donors and the community, we are transforming the lives of people affected by Crohn’s and colitis through research, patient programs, advocacy, and awareness.
For more information, visit crohnsandcolitis.ca and follow us @getgutsycanada on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.