University of Calgary

Understanding inflammatory bowel disease

March 16, 2009

Vet med investigates inflammatory bowel disease

Dr. Herman Barkema, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
Dr. Herman Barkema, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

A team of 19 Canadian researchers, led by University of Calgary veterinary researcher Dr. Herman Barkema is trying to unravel the causes of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

IBD is a debilitating gastrointestinal disease that affects both humans and animals. Alberta has one of the highest rates of the disease in the world.   

Thanks to a recently awarded Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR) Team Grant, Dr. Barkema, will lead an investigation involving scientists from the U of C, University of Alberta, University of Toronto and University of Manitoba.

The team will be looking at the interaction between genes, microbes and environmental factors such as pollution and water contamination to see how those factors combine to contribute to the development of IBD.  

“We are looking at humans, because if we understand how this disease happens in one species, we can apply it to others,” says Barkema. “IBD exists in many species, including cattle, sheep, dogs and some wildlife and it has devastating health, social and financial impacts.”

UCVM is strengthening the connections between human and animal medicine, a concept known as One Health. Collaborating with the University of Calgary's Faculty of Medicine, UCVM will contribute to the health and welfare of animals and humans.

Dr. Kris Chadee, Faculty of Medicine is a co-leader on the project.

Chadee and Barkema are part of the Snyder Institute of Infection Immunity and Inflammation at the Faculty of Medicine.

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