Helping Manage Symptoms

Living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis often means dealing with pain, weight loss, fatigue, anemia or diarrhea.

With the support of grants from Crohn's and Colitis Canada, the researchers noted below are conducting research projects that focus on developing a better understanding of these symptoms with the goal of discovering novel treatments that will reduce or even eliminate symptoms altogether.

2019 Grant Recipients

Dr. Sara Ahola Kohut

Dr. Sara Ahola Kohut | Hospital for Sick Children
Research: Investigating a new online support and training program for parents of children with IBD
Date: 2019-2020
Amount: $50,000

To support quality of life for children living with IBD, we must support essential members of their health-care teams: their parents. In this project, researchers will determine how well iACT-P – a new online Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) workshop series – can realistically help parents toward this end.

iACT-P features three 90-minute sessions that explore ACT, which is an emerging evidence-based approach to parenting children living with chronic illness. Here, parents will learn how to achieve self-care while managing their child’s IBD symptoms, medication, and diet in an online environment that is ideal for psychosocial programs. In these workshops, parents can meet others and share lived experiences, making it easier for them to talk about coping with a child’s unpredictable, difficult symptoms.

In pediatric health, parents are an often overlooked but vital component of their child’s care and advocacy teams. Most support systems in place are designed to focus on the young patients. This innovative study will determine the impact of these workshops on parents, if they are realistic and helpful, and if they make tangible differences in parents’ level of stress, values-based behaviour, and acceptance of their child’s struggles.

2018 Grant Recipients

Dr. Charles Bernstein

Dr. Charles Bernstein | University of Manitoba
Research: Brain imaging in depression, anxiety, and fatigue in IBD 
Date: 2018-2021
Amount: $375,000

Dr. Bernstein’s research seeks to expand our understanding of the relationship and interactions between the brain and gut. Researchers know people living with IBD experience higher rates of depression and anxiety disorders compared to the general population. Yet, they do not fully understand how these mental health issues impact a patient’s symptoms. Using novel brain scanning techniques, Dr. Bernstein hopes to use this new information to improve how IBD is treated.

Dr Prevost Jantchou

Dr. Prévost Jantchou | CHU Sainte-Justine
Research: Vitamin D for prevention of Crohn’s disease relapses in children
Date: 2018-2021
Amount: $375,000

Dr. Jantchou believes his research can help reduce the potential for relapse, improve care, and ultimately enhance the overall quality of life for children living with Crohn’s disease. Given the higher prevalence of Crohn’s disease in northern countries, his research will examine the environmental factors that may be at play for Crohn’s disease patients. Dr. Jantchou will compare the effect of a high dose of vitamin D with a standard dose as an adjunct therapy for Crohn’s disease.

2017 Grant Recipients

Dr. Deanna Gibson

Dr. Deanna Gibson | University of British Columbia
Co-investigators: Dr. Sundeep Sing, Dr. Kevan Jacobson, and Dr. Natasha Haskey
Research: The Mediterranean diet pattern reduces colitis
Date: 2017-2020
Amount: $375,000

Many patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) believe that diet impacts their symptoms and disease, but evidenced-based nutrition guidelines are lacking. Although patients blog about diet and many online sources of information state that certain diets can improve or exacerbate symptoms, few research studies have found a single dietary factor as being protective or harmful for IBD. Novel dietary approaches for the prevention and management of IBD are urgently needed, so health professionals can provide patients with sound nutrition guidance.

Fats are essential nutrients to health and must be consumed for normal development and survival. Different types of fats have different effects on the body. Dietary fat can impact the inflammation in our intestine, however the role of different types of fats and their impact on IBD remains unclear. Understanding the effects of fat in IBD is important since fat restriction in a patient with IBD could be harmful to their health and nutritional status.

This proposal will examine the effects of dietary fats on colitis both in isolation from each other and in combination as seen in the Mediterranean diet pattern. The Mediterranean diet pattern is widely suggested as an ‘anti-inflammatory’ diet and these properties are believed to be derived from the fat content of the diet. Dr. Gibson’s research shows that monounsaturated and saturated fats combined with fish oil are beneficial in mice with experimental colitis. She will examine the effect of this diet in patients with ulcerative colitis.

2016 Grant Recipients

Dr. Stephen Vanner

Dr. Stephen Vanner | Queen’s University
Co-investigators: Dr. Katrina Gee, Dr. David Reed, and Dr. Alan Lomax
Research: Turning off the ‘Switch’: Preserving the Analgesic Actions of the Endogenous Opioid Pathway in IBD
Date: 2016-2019
Amount: $375,000

Pain is a debilitating symptom for many with IBD. Dr. Vanner is studying how the abdominal pain seen in IBD is caused and whether there are more effective ways to treat it. Ultimately, this work may lead to better management of pain medications.


To learn about the completed research projects that we have supported, 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