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.

2020 Grant Recipients

Dr. Jean-Francois Beaulieu

Dr. Sanjay Murthy | University of Ottawa
Research: Defining cancer risk in inflammatory bowel diseases: A multi-provincial population-based analysis of temporal trends and the impact of biologic therapies for intestinal and extra-intestinal cancers
Date: 2020-2023
Amount: $375,000

Cancer remains the most common cause of death among people with IBD. Reducing the risks of cancer, hospitalization and intestinal surgery are principal goals of IBD care. Most data on the risks of these adverse events in people with IBD predate widespread adoption of major IBD treatment advances over the past 10 to 15 years, particularly biologic therapies. There are limited and conflicting reports of cancer risk specifically relating to biologic therapies. While the risk of intestinal cancer may directly relate to bowel inflammation, extra-intestinal cancers are more often related to IBD treatments. It is possible improved disease control from biologic and other immunosuppressive therapies reduced the rates of intestinal cancers, while greater use of immunosuppression over time increased the rates of extra-intestinal cancers. Additionally, improved disease control from biologic therapies may have reduced the risks of hospitalizations and surgeries in this population. Considering the rising IBD prevalence and costs of caring for IBD worldwide, there is a need to re-evaluate the present-day risks of these adverse health events in order to develop cost-effective strategies of care that prioritize high-risk groups. 

Dr. Murthy and his team are combining population-level data from six provinces, comprising 75 percent of all people with IBD in Canada, to develop national estimates of time trends and current risks of cancers and cancer-related deaths, hospitalizations and bowel surgeries faced by people with IBD. Along with helping to shape healthcare policy, the project’s findings will improve shared decision-making about treatment and cancer prevention between people with IBD and their healthcare providers.

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.

Past recipients 

To learn about the completed research projects that we have supported in 2017, click here.
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