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News from March 2012

Dr. Jonathan Meddings Appointed Dean of Medicine

We are proud to congratulate Dr. Jonathan Meddings in his appointment as the next Dean of Medicine at the University of Calgary.

Dr. Meddings is an AHFMR Senior Research Scholar and a valued member of the Alberta Inflammatory Bowel Disease Consortium.

He has been honoured for his research in inflammatory bowel disease and bowel permeability, including a CAG Research Excellence Award. He has served on the editorial boards of journals such as the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and the Canadian Journal of Physiology & Pharmacology, and has been inducted into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

Dr. Meddings completed his MD and residency in internal medicine at the University of Alberta, and since then has held a multitude of leadership positions in Alberta’s research community. He has served as Head of the Division of Gastroenterology at the UofC, and currently sits on the Oversight Committee of Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions.

Congratulations Jon!

Dr. Herman Barkema
Leader, Alberta Inflammatory Bowel Disease Consortium

New Discovery in IBD Holds Therapeutic Potential

The inflammation associated with IBD results in the damage and death of neurons lining the gastrointestinal tract, and this damage translates into debilitating symptoms such as chronic pain and disruptive digestive conditions. There are currently no therapeutic options to prevent this damage. Dr. Keith A Sharkey, Dr. Brian D Gulbransen, and colleagues from the Hotchkiss Brain Institute and the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases have made a new discovery that may change this.

By using translatable animal models, Dr. Sharkey’s team have identified “pannexins” as molecules that mediate the death of gastrointestinal neurons. Further, it was found that by blocking pannexins in mice that damage to their gastrointestinal tract could be significantly reduced. Since pannexins are also found in humans, this discovery may lead to future drug therapies to block pannexin, and improve disease outcomes, in humans.

This study is published in Nature Medicine. Read the article here.

Dr. Keith Sharkey is a senior researcher in the Alberta Inflammatory Bowel Disease Consortium, Deputy Director of the Hochkiss Brain Institute, and the CCFC Chair in IBD Research at the University of Calgary. This research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada.

Photo republished from:

Alberta IBD Consortium profiled in the Globe and Mail

On March 12 the Globe and Mail profiled Dr. Herman Barkema for his leadership of the Alberta Inflammatory Bowel Disease Consortium.

The Alberta IBD Consortium is an interdisciplinary team of clinical, biomedical, and epidemiological researchers from human and veterinary medicine backgrounds, whose purpose is to study the role that genetic, microbial, and environmental factors play in the development and disease course of inflammatory bowel disease.

Canada has amongst the highest established cases of IBD and new diagnosis of IBD per year. These devastating diseases most commonly begin in youth (age 10 to 30), and are estimated to coast Canada $1 Billion annually in direct healthcare costs, and $1.3 Billion in indirect costs incurred by sufferers such as reduced employment.

By better understanding the causes and progression of IBD, the Consortium hopes to pioneer advancements in treatment and prevention that will improve the lives of IBD patients and their families, and reduce the burden of these diseases on the health system and the economy.

Dr. Herman Barkema is a Professor of Epidemiology and Infectious Disease in the Faculties of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary.

Welcome to Teresa Emmett, Project Manager

The Alberta Inflammatory Bowel Disease Consortium is pleased to introduce Teresa Emmett who joined the team on March 12 as Project Manager during Karen Lowerison’s maternity leave.

Teresa joins the IBD team with ten years of experience working at the Smooth Muscle Research Group/Libin Cardiovascular Institute in the University of Calgary’s Department of Pharmacology/Biophysics, .

Teresa graduated from the U of C with a bachelor in Biological Sciences and has completed certificates in Professional Management and Emerging Leadership. Prior to joining the UofC, she worked in the corporate world in accounting roles, so she bring a wealth of experience with her.

Welcome aboard Teresa, we are excited to have you on our team!

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