The next generation of researchers

Dr. Simon Hirota
Strengthening IBD research in Canada requires supporting scientists at key stages in their careers. Part of our investment strategy is building the next generation of IBD scientists and clinicians. In collaboration with partners, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada awards scholarships and fellowships to graduate students and early career scientists. This support ensures young investigators can continue pursuing careers in Crohn’s and colitis research, leading to better treatments and cures for these diseases.

Dr. Simon Hirota, a researcher and professor at the University of Calgary, is one of the talented researchers Crohn’s and Colitis Canada has supported since early in his career. Dr. Hirota began his career in gastrointestinal research in 2007 through a fellowship supported by Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. He says that the support provided by Crohn’s and Colitis Canada for over a decade has made a significant and positive impact on his career. In turn, his novel work is leading the way to new discoveries.

Since receiving a postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Hirota has been the successful recipient of two major grants from Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. As Dr. Hirota explains, this funding has helped focus his team’s research on the understudied area of intestinal fibrosis. Up to 50 per cent of people living with Crohn’s disease experience thickening of the connective tissue in their intestine, known as fibrosis. For many patients, it can lead to an obstruction requiring invasive surgery. The surgery itself is not a cure, and up to 50 per cent of patients require additional surgery down the road.

With this financial support from Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, Dr. Hirota and his team have been unmasking the offenders in intestinal fibrosis in IBD. They have uncovered the mechanism that controls the process, and are taking their work a step further by figuring out why it occurs. They believe the microbiome may play a part, and are developing tools that will allow clinicians to predict whether or not a person with Crohn’s is susceptible. 
Dr. Hirota hopes his research will help patients with intestinal fibrosis avoid evasive surgery in the future. Crohn’s and Colitis Canada looks forward to learning more from Dr. Hirota and continuing to support his important research.

From undergraduate students to seasoned investigators, we are passionate about supporting scientists through all stages of their careers. Read our 2017/2018 Research Report to learn about not only the projects that we have continued to support, but also the new projects that we helped fund over the last year thanks to your generous support.

  • 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.

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