Members in the Division of Gastroenterology are actively involved in both clinical and basic science research.

Basic Science Research

The Division’s basic science research programs are supported by national and provincial granting agencies including CIHR, HSFC, CCFC, and the Canadian Society for Intestinal Research (CSIR).

Areas of basic science research include:

IBD and Cancer

Chronic colonic inflammation is a well-recognized risk for the development of colon cancer, however, the mechanisms underlying this progression, and hence how to prevent it, remain unknown.

  1. Based on our observations that integrin-linked kinase (ILK), a molecule implicated in several cancers, undergoes changes during the colitis and polyp development processes, we have reported on the effects of genetically knocking out ILK in epithelial cells on this and found it to be protective against the development of colitis-associated cancer.
  2. We have also found that curcumin, an anti-inflammatory dietary substance is able to attenuate intestinal inflammation and cancer.

Pancreatic Cancer and Progenitor Cells

Our work in the colonic system had revealed that ILK was capable of regulating a protein involved in cancer stem cell biology. We have shown that this is also the case for pancreatic cancer cell lines, where using inhibitors of both ILK and this ILK regulated protein, we show highly overlapping cancer cell cytotoxicity profiles. Furthermore, the expression of these proteins in human pancreatic cancer has shown a significant correlation with chemotherapeutic responsivity and/or prognosis.

Clinical Research

Areas of clinical research include:

  • liver disease
  • viral hepatitis
  • hepatocellular cancer
  • liver transplantation
  • solid organ transplantation and donation
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • capsule endoscopy
  • therapeutic endoscopy
  • endoscopic ultrasound
  • celiac disease
  • luminal gastroenterology