2018 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 2018 recipients of the Grants-in-Aid of Research.

Dr. Christophe Altier
Dr. Christophe Altier | University of Calgary
Amount: $375,000
Date: 2018-2021
Research: Targeting spinal microglia in IBD pain
Persistent abdominal pain is a common challenge for people living with IBD. While treatments are available, researchers still do not fully understand the underlying factors that contribute to the onset of persistent pain. Through prior research, Dr. Christophe Altier discovered that spinals cells, known as microglia, communicate with cells in the gastrointestinal tract. Building on this discovery, Dr. Altier will research the make-up of this cellular communication in order to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the onset of persistent abdominal pain, and identify opportunities for new forms of treatment.

Dr. Christine Lee
Dr. Christine Lee | Vancouver Island Health Authority
Amount: $375,000
Date: 2018-2021
Research: Safety and efficacy of home-administered freeze-dried fecal microbiota transplantation for treating ulcerative colitis
Evidence shows that ulcerative colitis may be a response to an imbalance of bacteria in the gut. Fecal microbiota transplantation, also known as a ‘stool transplant,’ is an in-demand procedure that has been shown to help patients find disease remission. Dr. Christine Lee’s proposal aims to help more patients reach remission and improve their quality of life through fecal microbiota transplantation. Dr. Lee will study how the procedure is administered in a clinic and at home, and assess its safety and effectiveness. The robust dataset will be submitted to Health Canada to make this procedure accessible to more people.

Dr. Charles Bernstein
Dr. Charles Bernstein | University of Manitoba
Amount: $375,000
Date: 2018-2021
Research: Brain imaging in depression, anxiety, and fatigue in IBD
Dr. Charles 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. Wallace MacNaughton
Dr. Wallace MacNaughton | University of Calgary
Amount: $375,000
Date: 2018-2021
Research: Novel peptides to enhance mucosal healing in IBD
Evidence shows that the lining of the intestine in people with IBD does not repair itself as effectively as it does in healthy people, and researchers do not know why. This lining is an important barrier and, when compromised, causes inflammation and significant pain and discomfort for people living with IBD. Dr. Wallace MacNaughton and his team will use novel approaches to better understand the healing process. With this information, they will develop new therapies or adjuncts to current therapies to keep people living with IBD in remission.

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

Dr. Fernand-Pierre Gendron
Dr. Fernand-Pierre Gendron | Université de Sherbrooke
Amount: $375,000
Date: 2018-2021
Research: Development of a novel family of IBD-modifying molecules
Dr. Fernand-Pierre Gendron and his team will investigate the therapeutic potential of molecules called UDP analogs (uridine diphosphate-mimicking molecules) for the treatment of IBD. Dr. Gendron’s work, in partnership with Dr. Bilha Fischer of Bar-Ilan University in Israel, hopes to develop molecules that can help block inflammation and promote healing of the intestine. If successful, this will help keep people with IBD in remission.

Dr. Derek McKay
Dr. Derek McKay | University of Calgary
Amount: $375,000
Date: 2018-2021
Research: Pro-healing macrophages to treat IBD
The immune system is home to defensive cells called macrophages. Existing research based on animal models shows that treating macrophages with the immune-signalling molecule IL4 reduces symptoms and promotes healing of IBD. Dr. Derek McKay is taking this research to the next level by exploring the potential to replicate these results in human cells. Dr. McKay’s study lays the groundwork for the development of a personalized therapy that uses a patient’s own cells to combat IBD symptoms and promote healing.


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 2018 recipients of the Innovations in IBD Grant.

Dr. Phillip Karpowicz
Dr. Phillip Karpowicz | University of Windsor
Amount: $50,000
Date: 2018-2019
Research: 24-hour timing in the intestine
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. Phillip 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.

Dr. Maria Ines Pinto-Sanchez
Dr. Maria Ines Pinto-Sanchez | McMaster University
Amount: $50,000
Date: 2018-2019
Research: Oral formula in addition to anti-inflammatory corticosteroids for the treatment of Crohn's disease
Exclusive enteral nutrition (EEN) has been used as an alternative to steroids for children with Crohn’s disease but less so in adults. Dr. Maria Ines 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.

Past Recipients

  • 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