2016 Grants & Awards

Grants-in-aid of research RECIPIENTS

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada's Grants-in-Aid of Research program supports Canadian inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) research. The intention of the program is to help advance prevention, treatments, health policy, and to ultimately move us closer to discovering cures for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. These grants support Canadian research projects which have a defined objective and are conducted by an investigator who is either working alone or in collaboration with others. The grants are awarded for up to three years at a maximum of $125,000 per year.

The selection process for the Grants-in-Aid of Research competition is very competitive as each research proposal submitted by either a Canadian researcher or healthcare professional is thoroughly reviewed by a Grant Review Panel comprised of scientific experts and lay persons. The Grant Review Panel scores and ranks the submitted applications based on merit and relevance to the patient community.

Please find below the 2016 recipients of the Grants-in-Aid of Research.

Dr. Laura Targownik
Dr. Laura Targownik | University of Manitoba
Co-investigators: Dr. Eric Benchimol, Dr. Geoff Nguyen, Dr. Lisa Lix, Dr. Sanjay Murthy, Dr. Kevan Jacobson, Dr. Gregory Rosenfeld, Dr. Cynthia Seow, Dr. Gilaad Kaplan, Dr. Jennifer Jones, Dr. Juan Nicholas Pena-Sanchez, Dr. Charles Bernstein, Dr. Harminder Singh, Dr. Alain Bitton, Dr. Maria Vutcovici, and Dr. Murray Krahn
Amount: $350,740
Date: 2016-2019
Research: Linking Population Based Provincial Health Care Utilization Databases to Evaluate Drug Related Outcomes in IBD
Dr. Targownik is using provincial health records to see how medications for IBD are being used by Canadians. This work will help healthcare professionals determine whether early use of biologics and/or combination therapy are beneficial to patients.

Dr. Stephen Vanner
Dr. Stephen Vanner​ | Queen’s University
Co-investigators: Dr. Katrina Gee, Dr. David Reed, and Dr. Alan Lomax
Amount: $355,000
Date: 2016-2019
Research: Turning off the ‘Switch’: Preserving the Analgesic Actions of the Endogenous Opioid Pathway in IBD
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.

Dr. Stuart Turvey
Dr. Stuart Turvey | University of British Columbia
Amount: $355,000
Date: 2016-2019
Research: Development of Anti-Inflammatory Nanomedicine for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Dr. Turvey is attaching tiny gold nanoparticles to peptides to reduce inflammation. He’s had positive results so far using this therapy to improve the health IBD mice and will now launch larger scale studies to confirm the benefits. Ultimately, this research will facilitate the development of new nanomedicines to treat people living with IBD.

Dr. Bruce Vallance
Dr. Bruce Vallance | University of British Columbia
Co-investigator: Dr. Leigh Knodler
Amount: $355,000
Date: 2016-2019
Research: Intestinal Epithelial Inflammasomes: Frontline Defenders against IBD?
Dr. Vallance is studying immune cells involved in protecting gut tissue from foreign bacteria. He is looking at ways of improving these cells’ abilities to control inflammation and promote gut healing in IBD.

Dr. Mark Silverberg
Dr. Mark Silverberg | Mount Sinai Hospital
Amount: 125,000
Date: 2016-2019
Research: Studying patients who have undergone pouch surgery to look at changes in the intestinal microbiome to determine the role they play in inflammation 

The digestive tract is home to hundreds of trillions of microorganisms, which generally exist with the host in a mutually beneficial relationship. Yet changes in the number and types of bacteria has been implicated in numerous conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) (including ulcerative colitis (UC)) which affects over 200,000 Canadians. However, relatively little is known about how changes in this bacterial community may contribute towards disease susceptibility. For this study, we therefore make use of a human model of IBD, the ileal pouch-anal anastomosis (IPAA) following surgery for severe UC, to evaluate how the composition of the intestinal microbiome changes over time, and how these changes may result in the development of intestinal inflammation. In previous studies we have demonstrated there are differences in the content of the microbial community of the inflamed pouch compared to tissue which is healthy. However, it is difficult to determine whether the observed changes played a role in disease development or were the result of the disease process. As such, we have designed a study, which aims to follow patients over time, both prior to and following the development of inflammation, to observe both normal changes in the pouch tissue following surgery, and those which may actually predict or contribute towards disease development. The information generated by this study will provide a greater understanding of factors which are causative in disease development, and will have the potential to lead to therapies which decrease the frequency of pouch inflammation and IBD occurrence in general.
Dr. Theodore Steiner
Dr. Theodore Steiner | University of British Columbia
Co-investigator: Dr. Megan Levings
Amount: $355,000
Date: 2016-2019
Research: Development of Regulatory T cell immunotherapy for IBD
Dr. Steiner is looking to enhance the ability of a white blood cell (regulatory T cells) to keep inflammation in check. They will collect these cells from human volunteers and improve function to find the best method to scale up and develop a therapy for IBD patients.

Dr. Elena Verdu
Dr. Elena Verdu | McMaster University
Amount: $355,000
Date: 2016-2019
Research: The role of Microbial Proteases in Colitis
Dr. Verdu will be investigating the impact that bacteria collected from UC patients has on germ-free mice in order to better understand how the certain bacteria may lead to gut leakiness or chronic inflammation seen in IBD.

Dr. Claude Asselin
Dr. Claude Asselin | Université Sherbrooke
Amount: $355,000
Date: 2016-2019
Research: Histone deacetylases: epigenetic regulators of intestinal epithelial homeostasis
Our body responds to the environment which can make us more or less susceptible to disease. The environment can cause a gene to turn “on” or “off” through epigenetic changes. Dr. Asselin is studying how certain proteins control genetic and epigenetic information in the gut cells leading to IBD.



The Innovations in IBD Grant is a one-year grant, valued at up to $50,000 that funds novel or innovative approaches to IBD research. The grant stimulates and supports research which may not be encompassed within the boundaries of traditional medical research. This award is open to both Canadian and international applicants.

Similar to the Grants-in-Aid of Research, the selection process for the Innovations in IBD Grant competition is very competitive as each research proposal submitted by either a researcher or healthcare professional is thoroughly reviewed by a Grant Review Panel. Comprised of scientific experts and lay persons, the Grant Review Panel scores and ranks the submitted applications based on merit and relevance to the patient community.

Please find below the 2017 recipients of the Innovations in IBD Grant.
Dr. Martin Pelletier | Universite Laval
Amount: $50,000
Date: 2016-2017
Research: Characterizing the role of inflammatory cells' bioenergetics in the pathophysiology of colitis
This study aims at characterizing different parameters of energy metabolism in immune cells during disease progression in a mouse model of colitis. This research could enable the development of improved biomarkers for inflammatory bowel disease based on immune cell’s energy metabolism and thus improve the diagnosis or pave the way for new treatments of inflammatory disorders.

Dr. Jane Shearer​ | University of Calgary
Amount: $50,000
Date: 2016-2017
Research: Use of a Mitochondrial Fission Inhibitor as a treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
This innovation grant seeks to understand the relationship between mitochondrial fission, intestinal barrier function and IBD. It will build upon preliminary data showing that targeting mitochondrial fission through a novel peptide inhibitor (P110) may be of therapeutic benefit in IBD. This peptide has been shown to be effective in other disease states where oxidative stress, cell death and fission are implicated.


  • 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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