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Crohn’s and Colitis Canada launches a new project in partnership with UM

March 25, 2021 — 

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada has announced that Dr. Charles Bernstein and Dr. Lesley Graff of the University of Manitoba will join the Promoting Access and Care Through Centres of Excellence (PACE) network with their research project Integrating psychological and nutritional interventions for patients with IBD.

Launched in 2016, the Crohn’s and Colitis Canada PACE network is the first national network of IBD Centres of Excellence, with each centre housing a multidisciplinary team that specializes in the treatment and management of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The teams at five leading IBD centres – Sinai Health System, McGill University Health Centre, McMaster University Medical Centre, University of Calgary and University of Alberta – work to advance best practices for health-care professionals and elevate the standard of care received by Canadians living with IBD.

Bernstein, director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinical and Research Centre at UM, and Graff, professor and head of the clinical health psychology department at UM, are joining the PACE network to find a way to make essential, personalized mental health, diet and nutritional care accessible to Canadians living with IBD. 

“In Canada, the mental health, diet and nutritional needs of individuals living with Crohn’s or colitis are not included in a typical care plan. The best way to provide care is with a qualified team that is able to address an individual’s unique needs through a holistic and personalized approach based on evidence,” says Susan Cowan, CEO of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.

“We are proud to expand the PACE network to include the important research work of Dr. Bernstein and Dr. Graff to increase the accessibility of mental health, diet and nutritional care.”

Bernstein and Graff will develop an online screening tool that enables an individual to communicate their personal needs in regards to mental health, diet and nutrition. The health-care provider will use this information to deliver clinical education and interventions tailored to the disease-related needs identified by the individual.

Clinical education materials and mental health and nutritional approaches most commonly used during the pilot will be distributed to IBD clinics across the country to improve the overall approach to integrated patient care.

“Though people living with IBD and their health-care providers increasingly recognize the importance of the connection between the disease and mental health, too often these needs are not integrated as part of the IBD care, and there continue to be gaps in fully assessing and addressing them,” says Graff.

“Similar to mental health, people with IBD would benefit from expert guidance to address their nutritional health in the context of IBD. The project will determine the extent to which routinely identifying and responding to mental health and nutrition needs in the IBD clinic using a tailored approach can improve outcomes and quality of life,” says Bernstein.

Every project incorporated into the PACE network is selected after undergoing a competitive peer-review process, and aligns with Crohn’s and Colitis Canada’s promise to discover cures and improve quality of life for everyone affected by IBD. 

To learn more about the PACE network, please visit

About Crohn’s and Colitis Canada

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is on a relentless journey to find the cures for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and improve the lives of children and adults affected by these chronic diseases. We are the country’s largest volunteer-based organization with this mission and are one of the top two health charity funders of Crohn’s and colitis research in the world, investing over $130 million in research to date. We are transforming the lives of people affected by Crohn’s and colitis through research, patient programs, advocacy, and awareness. For more information, visit and follow us @getgutsycanada on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Research at the University of Manitoba is partially supported by funding from the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

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