The Canadian Inflammatory Bowel Disease Research Consortium awards first $1M Pioneer Grant from Takeda Canada

Dr. Christopher Ma

Funding will support the first active comparator, multicentre, randomized trial to evaluate optimal first-line treatment strategy for Ileal Crohn’s disease

Toronto, ON – November 8, 2022 – The Canadian Inflammatory Bowel Disease Research Consortium (CIRC) awards the inaugural $1 million PIONEER Grant from Takeda Canada Inc. (Takeda), in support of high-quality, impactful Canadian clinical research to improve patient outcomes and quality of life for people living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 

The grant awardee will also receive assistance from Alimentiv, a world-class research organization with deep expertise in conducting clinical trials in IBD, through expertise, research execution and in-kind support.

With the support of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, CIRC was established in 2017 to attract and facilitate clinical studies in Canada by creating a collaborative network of clinician scientists and offering research support. 

This year’s recipient is Dr. Christopher Ma, the lead investigator for PATHFINDER: A Pragmatic, Active Comparator, Parallel-Group, Randomized Trial to Evaluate the Optimal First-Line Treatment Strategy for Moderate-to-Severely Active Ileal Crohn’s disease

IBD causes chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract which impacts food digestion, nutrition absorption and waste elimination for those affected i. The main forms are Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). More than 300,000 Canadians live with this disease for which there is currently no cureii

Most patients with CD have inflammation in the last portion of the small bowel, called the ileum. Ileal CD increases the risk for bowel damage so choosing the right medical treatment is critical for preventing complications like hospitalization and surgery.

Dr. Ma, along with his colleagues Dr. Remo Panaccione, Dr. Vipul Jairath, Dr. Talat Bessissow, Dr. Cathy Lu, Dr. GY Zou, and Dr. Susan Elliott, will conduct the first randomized, multicentre pragmatic trial that directly compares which of the three classes of biologics (anti-TNF, anti-integrin, and anti-IL-12/23) is optimal for achieving bowel healing (endoscopic remission) at one year. 


“This is the first clinical trial to investigate which class of biologics is the optimal first-line treatment for patients with high-risk ileal Crohn’s disease,” said Dr. Christopher Ma, an early career investigator and academic gastroenterologist at the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary. “We hope that the results from PATHFINDER will provide doctors with evidence-based treatment decisions to ensure better outcomes and quality of life for patients.”

“The PIONEER Grant is a notable example of how we can develop high-quality, scientific research in IBD through collaboration and partnerships,” said Dr. Neeraj Narula, President, CIRC. “The PATHFINDER research project has the opportunity to provide practice-changing evidence to optimize patient outcomes led by Canadian investigators.”   

“At Takeda, we are committed to advancing scientific research in the area of IBD and are proud to establish the CIRC PIONEER Grant to support Canadian researchers in their pursuit of life-changing innovations,” said Rute Fernandes, General Manager, Takeda Canada. “We congratulate Dr. Ma and his team for identifying this unique clinical need that could have a significant impact on patients living with ileal Crohn’s disease.” 

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, support programs, advocacy, and awareness. For more information, visit and follow us @getgutsycanada on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. 

About the Canadian Inflammatory Bowel Disease Research Consortium (CIRC)

CIRC was founded in 2017 through partnership with Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. CIRC is comprised of Canadian gastroenterologists with special interest in IBD. Over the past five years, the organization has grown to include over 60 Canadian gastroenterologist members who collaborate on multicentre IBD clinical research, with a particular focus on multicentre investigator-initiated trials, as well as generation of real-world evidence.

About Takeda Canada Inc.

Takeda Canada Inc. is the Canadian organization of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (TSE: 4502/NYSE: TAK), a global, values-based, R&D-driven biopharmaceutical leader headquartered in Japan, committed to discovering and delivering life-transforming treatments, guided by our commitment to patients, our people and the planet. Takeda focuses its R&D efforts on four therapeutic areas: Oncology, Rare Genetics and Hematology, Neuroscience, and Gastroenterology (GI). We also make targeted R&D investments in Plasma-Derived Therapies and Vaccines. We are focusing on developing highly innovative medicines that contribute to making a difference in people’s lives by advancing the frontier of new treatment options and leveraging our enhanced collaborative R&D engine and capabilities to create a robust, modality-diverse pipeline. Our employees are committed to improving quality of life for patients and to working with our partners in health care in approximately 80 countries and regions. For more information, visit: .

About Alimentiv Inc.

Alimentiv is a global contract research organization (CRO) providing clinical trials, central image management, precision medicine, and real-world evidence services to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Headquartered in London, Ontario. Alimentiv is committed to investment in medical research and development, focusing on identifying barriers to drug development and pursuing solutions that advance IBD research. The research findings are operationalized into an efficient clinical trial methodology for clients that aligns with emerging regulatory standards. In collaboration with leading experts, Alimentiv has pioneered the development, validation, and standardization of outcome measures and technology, shaping the evolving clinical trial landscape for multiple indications and providing meaningful long-term consequences for patients, their treatment, and society. For more information, visit:


For media inquiries, please contact:

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada

Takeda Canada Inc.
Amanda Jacobs
(647) 798-2231

i What are Crohn’s and Colitis. Accessed 03/11/2022. Available at:

ii What You Need to Know About the Impact of IBD in Canada. Accessed 03/11/2022. Available at:

  • 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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