Getting the Best Care

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic illnesses, meaning that until the scientific community discovers cures, patients will continue living with these diseases. A key component to ensuring the well-being of patients living with a chronic illness is to continuously evolve and improve patient care.

With the support of grants from Crohn's and Colitis Canada, the researchers noted below are diligently working on research projects that focus on discovering and implementing new ways to ensure patients have access to the best care possible.

2019 Grant Recipients

Dr. Jean-Francois Beaulieu

Dr. Jean-Francois Beaulieu | Université de Sherbrooke
Research: A mass spectrometry-based stool test to better diagnose and manage IBD
Date: 2019-2020
Amount: $50,000

It remains a clinical challenge to assess IBD because symptoms may often be subtle and atypical. In recent years, non-invasive tests for assessing gastrointestinal inflammation have been used to improve the diagnosis and management of IBD. While fecal calprotectin and lactoferrin are among the best-characterized biomarkers for tracking that inflammation, the search for more specific biomarkers is still very active.

Building on success in colorectal cancer screening, this team proposes an innovative discovery strategy that utilizes mass spectrometry to analyze stool of people with IBD. They will test samples in the context of the fecal calprotectin clinical test at the CIUSSS de l'Estrie-CHUS. They will analyze and process data from 50 samples from patients without IBD, 50 with Crohn’s disease, and 50 with ulcerative colitis using their mass spectrometry technology. They will target the most discriminating biomarkers, and bioinformatic analysis will help establish the specific proteomic signatures for these diseases.


2018 Grant Recipients

Dr. Maria Ines Pinto-Sanchez

Dr. Maria Ines Pinto-Sanchez | McMaster University 
Research: Oral formula in addition to anti-inflammatory corticosteroids for the treatment of Crohn's disease
Date: 2018-2019
Amount: $50,000

Exclusive enteral nutrition (EEN) has been used as an alternative to steroids for children with Crohn’s disease but less so in adults.

Dr. Pinto-Sanchez’s research will test whether novel nutritional therapy can help reduce the disease activity and potentially decrease the side effects of corticosteroid treatment in adults living with Crohn’s disease. Dr. Pinto-Sanchez’s research will be the first to test combining EEN with corticosteroid treatment.

Dr Phillip Karpowicz

Dr. Phillip Karpowicz | University of Windsor
Research: 24-hour timing in the intestine
Date: 2018-2019
Amount: $50,000

All human bodies function in 24-hour cycles known as circadian rhythms. Examples of this are our sleep-wake cycles, daily cycles of hormones, and cycles of hunger and digestion. It’s also true for the intestine’s repair cycle.

Dr. Karpowicz seeks to establish a link between circadian rhythms and the health of the intestine to inform clinicians about the best time for therapeutic interventions for people living with IBD. If researchers can identify at what stage of repair the intestine is in, they can better inform clinicians about when to administer drugs or perform surgery.

2017 Grant Recipients

Dr. Geoff Nguyen

Dr. Geoffrey Nguyen | University of Toronto
Co-investigators: Dr. Deborah Marshall, and Dr Maida Sewitch
Research: Measuring Healthcare Priorities in the Management of Inflammatory Bowel Disease from a Patient Perspective
Date: 2017-2019
Amount: $250,000

The rate of IBD in Canada is among the highest in the world with more than a quarter of a million people affected. Various clinical guidelines for IBD have been developed to improve the healthcare provided to IBD patients. However, doctors and patients often have differing opinions of what are the most important goals of treatment. Unfortunately, the patient perspective is not always well-represented in planning healthcare delivery.

Dr. Nguyen’s work plans to use a survey technique called discrete choice experiments that has long been used in commercial industries to determine what aspects of healthcare are most important to patients. Importantly, the survey methods allow sampling of a very large group of IBD patients throughout Canada so that the perspectives are representative of the entire country.

The results of this study will then compare patient perspectives to that of doctors to see where they really differ. This understanding will improve patient-physician communication. Most importantly the results of this study will help policy makers prioritize IBD-related health initiatives that patients feel are most important.

Dr. Reena Khanna

Dr. Reena Khanna | Western University
Co-investigator: Dr. Guangyong Zou
Research: Development of a New Endoscopic Score for Crohn’s Disease
Date: 2017-2019
Amount: $131,552.32

Meaningful clinical trial outcomes can only be obtained if the most clinically- and scientifically-relevant measures are used to assess disease activity. Research to evaluate and optimize the outcome measures used in Crohn’s disease (CD) clinical trials is therefore crucial.

The main objectives of Dr. Khanna’s work is to: develop a novel index for endoscopic assessment of disease activity in CD using statistical methods; assess alternative methods to score ulcers, since these have been shown to predict a response to treatment; compare the reliability of the current endoscopic indices (SES-CD and CDEIS), and the novel index; and to assess their ability to detect changes in disease activity following treatment.

Dr. Khanna expects that a new index that is more reliable and sensitive to detecting change in endoscopic disease activity following treatment will be the end result of the studies proposed in this application.

Dr. Ahola Kohut

Dr. Sara Ahola Kohut | The Hospital for Sick Children
Co-investigators: Dr. Anne Griffiths, and Dr. Kevan Jacobson
Date: 2017-2020
Amount: $362,037.52
Research: iPeer2Peer Program: Online peer monitoring for teens with IBD

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a childhood illness that can make you feel pain, tired, emotionally upset, and make it hard to see friends or do activities you like. When children become teens they start making more choices about their health. Being a part of making choices about your health can help teens get ready to move to an adult healthcare team.

Peer mentoring using the Internet is a new way to help teens with IBD learn to make choices about their health. This study will compare two groups of teens: those who take part in the iPeer2Peer program and those who do not.

The iPeer2Peer program matches teens with IBD with a young adult mentor who has learned to manage their IBD well. The teen and their mentor will talk on Skype video calls every week for 20-30 minutes over 3 months. The teens’ ability to take care of themselves, their confidence, their IBD symptoms, their quality of life, and the extra costs of living with IBD, will be measured before, right after and six months after the iPeer2Peer program has taken place. Quality of life will also be measured in mentors before and after they take part in the program.

This program is new and different because it uses the Internet to connect teens with mentors. The iPeer2Peer program makes learning to take of yourself easier for young people with IBD. This will make living with IBD easier for teens and may reduce costs to the healthcare system.

Past recipients 

To learn about the completed research projects that we have supported in 2016, click here.
To learn about the completed research projects that we have supported in 2014, click here.

  • 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