The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust Awards Crohn's and Colitis Canada $3.37 Million (USD) To Expand PACE Network

Vital funding received for improving access to care and novel research aims to fill crucial gaps for Canadians living with inflammatory bowel disease. 

Toronto, ON – December 7, 2021 – Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is pleased to announce generous funding of two grants totalling $3,370,258 (USD) from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, which will support the expansion of its Promoting Access and Care through Centres of Excellence (PACE) network. With a shared goal to improve quality of life for people living with Crohn’s disease, the grants provided by The Helmsley Charitable Trust will help advance the work of a national inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) telemedicine program across underserved regions of Canada and further develop and evaluate the efficacy of a national youth to adult transition of care program. These programs will benefit all Canadians living with IBD.

The National IBD Telemedicine Program is led by Dr. Geoffrey Nguyen (Sinai Health System) and the Youth to Adult Transition of Care Intervention Program is led by Drs. Eric Benchimol (The Hospital for Sick Children), Natasha Bollegala (Women’s College Hospital), Nancy Fu (University of British Columbia) and Melanie Barwick (The Hospital for Sick Children).

Established in 2016, the PACE program is the country’s first national network of IBD Centres of Excellence with each centre housing a multidisciplinary team that specializes in the treatment and management of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which are the two main forms of IBD. The PACE IBD Centres are dedicated to advancing best practices for healthcare providers and elevating the standard of care received by the 300,000 Canadians living with IBD. 

“We know that Canadians residing in rural and remote areas of the country are less likely to receive high-quality gastroenterology care which has consequences on long-term outcomes. We also know that the prevalence of IBD in children has risen more than 50% in the past 15 years, which means that processes supporting the transition of young adults to adult care need to be in place,” says Lori Radke, President and CEO of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. “These two facts highlight the urgent need to implement novel ways to enhance access to care and identify processes that support Canadians as they transition through different stages of life. We’re proud to partner with Helmsley to support these two PACE projects that shape the future of healthcare for Canadians living with Crohn’s disease through evidence-based solutions.”

The National IBD Telemedicine Program focuses on improving health outcomes by connecting Canadians with IBD who reside in remote and rural areas of Canada with a gastroenterologist at an IBD centre of excellence. Dr. Nguyen and his team are expanding the telemedicine network to include additional IBD centres in five provinces across Canada with the lowest access to IBD specialists. IBD Nurses will lead the program’s expansion and facilitate virtual care in underserviced regions in these select provinces.

The Youth to Adult Transition of Care Intervention Program aims to improve health and life outcomes of adolescents and young adults who are transitioning from pediatric to adult IBD care. Dr. Benchimol and his team will pilot test a transition process at three clinical sites across the country that include Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (Ottawa, ON), The Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto, ON), and BC Children’s Hospital (Vancouver, BC).

“Access to specialized Crohn’s disease care should transcend geography, and telemedicine holds great promise for making this a reality for everyone,” said Laura Hobstetter, an Associate Program Officer at the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “Patients deserve easily-accessible, high quality, and personalized approaches to treatment, particularly at moments of transition, such as aging out of the pediatric healthcare system. Helmsley and Crohn’s and Colitis Canada are committed to improving quality care for IBD and ensuring that patients have the right tools and resources needed to thrive.”

To learn more about the PACE network, 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.

About the Helmsley Charitable Trust

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the United States and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives. Since beginning active grantmaking in 2008, Helmsley has committed more than $3 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes. 

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust

For media inquiries, please contact:

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

Carey Meyers
Director of Communications
Helmsley Charitable Trust 

  • 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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