Past Grant Recipients 2020

Finding Causes and Triggers

A common question asked by patients and their caregivers is "What causes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis?" Unfortunately, the causes and triggers of these chronic diseases remain unknown.

With the support of grants from Crohn's and Colitis Canada, the researchers noted below are moving us closer to discovering the factors that lead to the onset of these diseases by researching environmental triggers, genetic markers, and more.

2020 Grant Recipients

Dr. Brian Coombes
Dr. Brian Coombes  |  McMaster University
Research: A novel pre-clinical model of Crohn's disease influenced by psychological stress
Date: 2020-2023
Amount: $375,000

Dr. Brian Coombes and his lab are pursing research to understand the microbes that drive chronic inflammation in Crohn’s disease, with a focus on adherent-invasive E. coli (AIEC). AIEC are more abundant in people with Crohn’s disease, but currently we don’t understand why. What is known is that AIEC can influence disease course in pre-clinical models of Crohn’s disease, which has been the focus of this research.

An important contributor to Crohn’s disease is psychological stress, however the reasons why stress can exacerbate symptoms and causes flares is unclear. Dr. Coombes and his team have developed a pre-clinical model in which psychological stress leads to changes in the gut microbiome that are similar to the microbiome of Crohn’s disease patients. This dysbiosis is dominated by the expansion of AIEC and other bacteria in the ileum. They have started to characterize the host immune response to stress that influences AIEC expansion. With this new grant, Dr. Coombes will continue to advance understanding of the immune response and microbial changes imposed by stress that drive microbial imbalance, and pursue strategies to remediate the gut microbiome.

  • 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.

Other Areas of Interest