Canada’s First Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis Center Network Established

Canada’s First Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis Center Network Established
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Crohn’s and Colitis Canada recently announced the nation’s first network for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis patient care and research: Promoting Access and Care through Centres of Excellence (PACE). It is the largest Canadian collaboration for adults living with the two main manifestations of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Dr. Remo Panaccione (left) PACE lead at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine and member of the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases, with patient Tammy Truman and Robert Hemminger, director, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada which has announced the creation of country's first national network of leading Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis patient care and research centres. Photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary
Dr. Remo Panaccione (left) with patient Tammy Truman (center) and Robert Hemminger (right), the Director of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada. Photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

PACE will host a combination of independent and collaborative research that will take place over four years. During the first year, each center will drive their own research and in the following three years, all centers will collaborate to develop their specific strengths. Crohn’s and Colitis Canada will provide each center with $500,000.

According to a press release,  Dr. Remo Panaccione, an international expert in IBD and the director of the University of Calgary’s IBD clinic since 2001, is one of five expert clinicians involved in the project. He will lead the Calgary center with Dr. Robert Fedorak, from the University of Alberta.

“The vision of PACE and the Calgary Inflammatory Bowel Disease Research Centre is to improve the quality of life of our patients with IBD —we will work to identify and target immune pathways in order to develop personalized therapies and biomarkers for disease surveillance,” said Panaccione who is also a member of the chronic disease-focused Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases in the Cumming School of Medicine.

Calgary will be in charge of elevating the standard of care’s consistency, by establishing standard clinical practice procedures and treatments across the country. Calgary’s team will work to introduce technological alternatives for integrating best practices into healthcare.

The University of Calgary is teamed with the University of Alberta to develop standardize treatments, specifically addressing the long use of steroids. Steroids reduce inflammation and bring about improvement, but long-term use can also bring significant side effects. Use should be kept at a minimum.

“Our priority is reducing steroid use in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis patients,” Panaccione said. “Three quarters of patients referred to a specialist are on steroid treatment and our work will address this issue.”

Each year, Alberta sees 1,000 new IBD diagnoses. With 20,000 known cases in the province, when ranked by population, Alberta has among the highest levels of IBD burden in the world.

“Thanks to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada, PACE will build upon the success of the University of Calgary IBD Clinic and serve as a beacon to the global IBD community as a model of how to best deliver care and education to IBD patients,”  Panaccione said.

Within the PACE network, Calgary is known as one of the top three IBD centers worldwide. Clinicians and researchers at Cumming School of Medicine have published over 600 scientific papers on IBD, and the school is ranked fifth globally for academic output. Other centers in the collaboration include McMaster University in Hamilton, McGill University in Montreal, and Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

Margarida graduated with a BS in Health Sciences from the University of Lisbon and a MSc in Biotechnology from Instituto Superior Técnico (IST-UL). She worked as a molecular biologist research associate at a Cambridge UK-based biotech company that discovers and develops therapeutic, fully human monoclonal antibodies.
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Margarida graduated with a BS in Health Sciences from the University of Lisbon and a MSc in Biotechnology from Instituto Superior Técnico (IST-UL). She worked as a molecular biologist research associate at a Cambridge UK-based biotech company that discovers and develops therapeutic, fully human monoclonal antibodies.
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