SOURCE: University of Calgary

University of Calgary

March 31, 2016 10:00 ET

Patients get to ask the questions in innovative research project

University of Calgary part of national initiative to fund patient-oriented research

CALGARY, AB --(Marketwired - March 31, 2016) - A unique set of grants focused on patient-oriented research were announced today. Patients and their families were involved in the research process and were able to formulate the types of questions they want scientists to answer about the diseases that affect them.

The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, announced the funding of five new research networks through Canada's Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) at an event held at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. The University of Calgary is co-leading two of the initiatives focused on gastrointestinal disease and kidney disease.

"I am thrilled that our scholars are involved in these high-impact, multi-disciplinary projects with partner institutions across Canada," says University of Calgary Vice-President (Research) Ed McCauley. "This support from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research is an important investment in patient-oriented research and in the leadership of our scientists."

Scientists know that some diets help people living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), but they are not sure which ones are beneficial or why they work. It's a question that researchers at the University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine will work to answer as part of a national study on digestive health research and care.

Dr. Bertus Eksteen with the university's Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases is the co-lead, along with McMaster University's Dr. Paul Moayyedi, on the IMAGINE SPOR Chronic Disease Network. It is a national collaboration of patients and scientists that will look at how gut bacteria and diet cause IBD, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and the anxiety and depression associated with these disorders.

The IMAGINE team will study multiple aspects of IBS and IBD. In addition, several of their other projects involve other University of Calgary researchers working with colleagues from across Canada. People living with IBD and IBS are participating in the projects' design, management and follow-through.

There is a basic science component to the project that involves the microbiome centre at the University of Calgary where researchers will work to understand gut bacteria in the bowel.

The goal of this project is to understand how diet modification can change the bacteria in the microbiome as well as offer patients a tailored "precision" approach to therapy by matching the treatment to each patient's specific profile.

For instance in some cases, they will assess whether fecal microbial transplantation can be used to replace an "unhealthy" gut microbiome as opposed to conventional and expensive therapeutic medications. Research will also include studies of new treatments wherein it's projected that approximately 2,000 patients in Calgary will be recruited for clinical studies.

"For those living with IBD, disability is huge. This has an impact on their day-to-day life and we're hoping we can better understand and treat these diseases," says Eksteen. "Patients with gastrointestinal disorders have higher rates of anxiety and depression. We are going to examine the impact that diet has on the immune system response when the gut microbiome is disturbed."

Two thirds of Canadians experience gastrointestinal symptoms and the most prevalent complaints relate to bowel disorders, particularly IBS and IBD.

SPOR networks will connect researchers, health professionals, policy makers and patients across the country to improve the health and health outcomes of Canadians living with chronic diseases. The focus areas of the research include diabetes, chronic pain, IBD, chronic kidney disease, and childhood disability.

The networks will receive a total of $62 million over five years from the Government of Canada, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and an additional $126 million from partners including the Kidney Foundation of Canada, the Canadian Society of Nephrology and Crohn's Colitis Canada. 

University of Calgary researchers involved in the SPOR projects include:

  • Adam Kirton working on CHILD - BRIGHT: Child Health Initiatives Limiting Disability project.

  • Bertus Eksteen, Gilaad Kaplan, Paul Kubes, Glenda MacQueen working on IMAGINE: Inflammation, Microbiome, and Alimentation project

  • Brenda Hemmelgarn, Braden Manns, Marcello Tonelli working on Can-SOLVE CKD: Listening, Learning, Leading: Canadians Seeking Solutions and Innovation to Overcome Chronic Kidney Disease project.

  • Melanie Noel involved with the Chronic Pain Network.

About the University of Calgary
The University of Calgary is making tremendous progress on its journey to become one of Canada's top five research universities, where research and innovative teaching go hand in hand, and where we fully engage the communities we both serve and lead. This strategy is called Eyes High, inspired by the university's Gaelic motto, which translates as 'I will lift up my eyes.'

For more information, visit . Stay up to date with University of Calgary news headlines on Twitter @UCalgary. For details on faculties and how to reach experts go to our media centre at .

About the Cumming School of Medicine
The University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine is a leader in health research, with an international reputation for excellence and innovation in health care research and education. On June 17, 2014, the University Of Calgary Faculty Of Medicine was formally named the Cumming School of Medicine in recognition of Geoffrey Cumming's generous gift to the university.

For more information, visit, or follow us on Twitter @UCalgaryMed

The Calvin, Phoebe and Joan Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases
The Calvin, Phoebe and Joan Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases was named in 2008 in honour of Joan Snyder and her parents, who she credits with teaching her the value of philanthropy. It is a group of more than 104 clinicians, clinician-scientists and basic scientists who are impacting and changing the lives of people suffering from chronic diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, sepsis, inflammatory bowel disease, and cystic fibrosis.

For more information, visit                  

Contact Information

  • Media Contact
    Marta Cyperling
    Media Relations Manager
    University of Calgary, Cumming School of Medicine