McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Chair in ulcerative colitis established at McMaster University

Published: May 15, 2013
Walter Reinisch
Dr. Walter Reinisch, a clinician scientist and inaugural holder of the Audrey Campbell Chair in Ulcerative Colitis, speaking at the anncouncement of the chair

A $3.5 million endowed chair is being established at McMaster University to further research into ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that impacts more than 100,000 Canadians, and millions more worldwide.

Dr. Kevin Glasgow, CEO of the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada (CCFC), said today that the new position is being established because medical research is the only hope for finding cures and better treatments for inflammatory bowel diseases.

"Money raised by the CCFC allows our donors to invest in world-class research and programs, right here in Canada. These are tricky diseases — hard to diagnose, too frequently misdiagnosed and frustrating to treat. But we are making progress on every front."

After final approvals the position will be named the Audrey Campbell Chair in Ulcerative Colitis at McMaster University. The late Audrey Campbell, a philanthropist and daughter of Canadian media pioneer Roy Thomson, suffered from ulcerative colitis.  Her three daughters, Linda Campbell, Gaye Farncombe and Susan Grange, have provided the initial $2 million in funding for this position in her honour. The remainder of the funding is from the university.

McMaster President Patrick Deane welcomed the new Chair, noting that the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine has one of the world's top 10 research programs in digestive health research.

"We appreciate the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada's commitment to advancing the most progressive and innovative projects to find new approaches in treating IBD," said Deane. "This endowed chair will ensure ongoing focus on this chronic, debilitating disease of ulcerative colitis."

The university also announced the new position has attracted a world-class scientist as its first holder. Dr. Walter Reinisch is a clinician scientist and currently an associate professor of gastroenterology at the Medical University of Vienna in his native Austria. Trained in Austria and the U.S., he is scheduled to take the McMaster position in July.

Reinisch's research focus is on both individualized treatment approaches and, from an international perspective, finding a "common language of inflammatory bowel disease" to improve communications with patients. He has published several landmark papers on medical treatments in ulcerative colitis and recently finished a pilot study on the impact of human biotherapy aimed at changing bacteria in the bowel of ulcerative colitis.

Glasgow added: "CCFC is particularly proud to partner with McMaster to unveil this unique Chair during May.  Sunday, May 19 is World IBD Day and the impact of this important investment in ulcerative colitis research is really global in scope and relevance.  We are extremely grateful to the daughters of Audrey Campbell for making this chair possible."

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