University of Calgary

AHFMR team grants

April 21, 2009

Research teams tackle pressing Alberta health concerns

Dr. Herman Barkema

Dr. Herman Barkema
A University of Calgary veterinarian will lead a diverse group of researchers looking into a serious human health problem, thanks to a new research grant from the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR).

Dr. Herman Barkema, from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, is leading a team of 22 Canadian researchers who will try and unravel the causes of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

“IBD is a debilitating gastrointestinal disease that affects many species; including humans, cattle, sheep, dogs and some wildlife,” says Barkema a professor of epidemiology and head of the Department of Production Animal Health.  “Alberta actually has one of the highest rates of the disease in the world.”  

Barkema, along with U of C Faculty of Medicine’s Dr. Khrisendath (Kris) Chadee and University of Alberta’s Dr. Richard Fedorak, are leading the Alberta IBD Consortium: Etiology of Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Gene, Microbe & Environment Interactions.  The team is made up of gastroenterologists, microbiologists, epidemiologists, immunologists, and geneticists. They will be looking at the interaction between genes, microbes and environmental factors such as air pollution and water contamination to see how they combine to contribute to the development of IBD.  

“This is an excellent example of the concept of One Health in action,” says Barkema.  “We are always trying to strengthen the connections between human and animal medicine. We’re all connected and the more we know about one disease or one species, the more we can apply that knowledge to other species.”

Researchers from the University of Manitoba and University of Toronto are participating in the project.

The study was one of five projects announced Monday as part of the AHFMR’s second Interdisciplinary Team Grants competition. The $50-million program provides opportunities for collaborative teams of scientists and physicians from across the province to join forces to tackle research questions and healthcare challenges in areas of priority for Alberta.

U of C researchers are also involved in the other Team Grant projects announced Monday, April 20, which include:

Smart Neural Prostheses to Restore Motor and Sensory Function
Team leaders:
Zelma Kiss, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Faculty of Medicine, U of C
Vivian Mushahwar, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, U of A
Richard Stein, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, U of A

Understanding and Treating Diastolic Heart Failure: Novel Mechanisms, Diagnostics and
Potential Therapeutics

Team Leaders:
Todd Anderson, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, U of C
Jason Dyck, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, U of A

Interdisciplinary Chronic Disease Collaboration: Improving the Efficient and Equitable
Care of Patients with Chronic Medical Conditions

Team Leaders
Brenda Hemmelgarn, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, U of C
Braden Manns, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, U of C
Marcello Tonelli, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, U of A

The Alberta Sepsis Network
Team Leaders
Paul Kubes, Department of Physiology & Biophysics, Faculty of Medicine, U of C
Christopher Doig, Department of Critical Care Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, U of C
AriJoffe, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, U of A

For more information about AHFMR’s Interdisciplinary Team Grants competition, visit:

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