Crohn’s and Colitis Research Awarded $1.2 Million in Grants

Sufferers from Crohn’s and Colitis will be relieved to know that $1.2 million in new grants has been awarded for research into the diseases.
The grants have been awarded by Crohn’s and Colitis Canada through its Grants-in-Aid of Research and Innovations in IBD Research grant programs. With funds distributed among five principal investigators and their teams, the grants will support novel research projects focused on Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

As one of the world’s largest non-governmental funders of IBD research, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada has a well-known history of leading the advancement of critical research. Every funded project provides hope to the 270,000 Canadians living with the chronic autoimmune diseases – a number that researchers expect to rise to 400,000 by 2030.

While Canadians of all ages live with IBD, research shows seniors are the fastest growing group. The prevalence in children has risen by more than 50% over the past 10 years.

With the rising rate of IBD among Canadians and unique treatment challenges presented by all age groups, the data from the scientific community highlights the urgent need to invest in research.

“We are grateful to the Crohn’s and colitis community who stepped up in a difficult year to ensure we could sustain and grow our research investments,” says Susan Cowan, CEO of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.
“We have made great progress in gaining a better understanding of these diseases, and funding these five new projects through our grant programs ensures we don’t lose momentum.
With 14 Grants-in-Aid projects currently in their second or third year of funding, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is now supporting 19 grant-funded projects that address the pressing need to expand treatment options, improve patient care, and identify the mechanisms behind the diseases to allow us to discover cures.
The organization drives world-renowned, game-changing Crohn’s and colitis research thanks to the generous support of donors and volunteers through their annual Gutsy Walk and local fundraising activities across the country.”

The annual competitions for the two funding programs require principal investigators to submit research proposals that undergo a rigorous review process by a panel comprised of scientific experts, IBD nurses, and people with IBD.
This year, three principal investigators and their teams are the recipients of Grants-in-Aid of Research grants, and will receive $125,000 a year for three years to advance prevention, treatments, and health policy.

The notable researchers receiving funding through Crohn’s and Colitis Canada’s grants program are:

Grants-in-Aid of Research Recipients:

Dr. Brian Coombes, McMaster University: Dr. Coombes’ research will advance understanding of how psychological stress impacts the immune response to invasive microbes associated with Crohn’s disease.

Dr. Dana Philpott, University of Toronto: Dr. Philpott and her lab are examining how LRRK2 variants affect intestinal inflammation and if targeting LRRK2 activity with drugs in development to treat Parkinson’s disease can act as a potential treatment for Crohn’s disease.

Dr. Sanjay Murthy, University of Ottawa: Dr. Murthy is developing national estimates of time trends and current risks of cancer-related deaths, hospitalizations and bowel surgeries faced by people with IBD to help shape healthcare policy and improve shared decision-making about treatment and cancer prevention between people with IBD and their healthcare providers.

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada has also awarded two Innovations in IBD Research grants to scientists and their teams.
The intent of the Innovations in IBD Research program is to support scientists with new and creative ideas, which may have high risks but could result in high rewards. These one-year $50,000 grants are made possible this year thanks to funding provided by the Ross McMaster Memorial Fund.

Innovations in IBD Research Recipients:

Dr. François Boudreau, Université de Sherbrooke: Dr. Boudreau aims to identify approved drugs that reinforce the activity of the protein HNF4A, creating the opportunity to expedite clinical testing, after identifying HNF4A is a central epithelial regulator that maintains the barrier function of the intestinal epithelium and protects against susceptibility of IBD.

Dr. Theodore Steiner, University of British Columbia: Building on their research that shows putting Tr1 cells into SHIP-deficient mice protects them from developing a disease similar to Crohn’s disease, Dr. Steiner and his team will use animal models to further identify the protective nature of Tr1 cells, laying the groundwork for Tr1 therapy in people.

In addition to funding research projects through its annual grant competitions, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada supports a number of signature research initiatives. Notably, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada created the first national network of IBD Centres of Excellence through its Promoting Access and Care through Centres of Excellence (PACE) network to address existing gaps in access to care in Canada.

Supported by the generosity of donors and in partnership with Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada’s Genetic, Environmental, Microbial (GEM) Project is the world’s largest clinical study investigating the causes of Crohn’s disease.

To learn more about Crohn’s and Colitis Canada’s grants programs and other funded research, please visit crohnsandcolitis.ca.

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