Michael J. Howorth GEM project

The GEM (Genes-Environment-Microbes) Study

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada is sponsoring a national study to develop a cohort of unaffected first degree relatives of persons affected with Crohn’s disease. The goal is to collect data on diet and environment as well as blood, urine and stool from subjects. The blood will serve to assess for antibody markers and gene studies; the urine to check for leaky gut; and the stool will serve to look for bugs. In all, the goal is to find factors that predict the ultimate development of Crohn’s disease. The cohort will be followed over at least 5 years and those who develop Crohn’s disease will be compared with those who don’t.

If you have Crohn’s disease, and you have a sibling(s) (brother or sister) or a child(ren) who do not have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, and they are between the ages of 6 and 35 years of age ; we would like to invite you to register for this very important study. We would be following your sibling/child for up to 7 years and asking them to complete some quesitonnaires as well as a blood, urine and stool sample in the first year, and receive a follow-up phone call every six-month for the remaining years of the study.

If you are the sibling or a child of a person with Crohn’s disease and are less than 35 years of age, and not affected by IBD, then you are eligible. The study entails completing a questionnaire, undergoing a blood draw and submitting a stool sample. If you are willing to participate in this study please contact Karen Downing at 204-787-8719 or Trish Rawsthorne at 204-787-2060. If Karen or Trish are not available, please leave a message and your call will be returned. Collect calls accepted

Primary Investigators:

Dr. Charles Bernstein (Manitoba Site Investigator)

Dr. Wael El Matary (Manitoba Site Investigator)

Dr. Kenneth Croitoru (National Project Director)

Enrolment: Ongoing.

Funding provided by: The Crohn’s and Colitits Foundation of Canada

Objective: To Identify why some individuals develop Crohn’s Disease and others do not. This is accomplished by following healthy individuals considered to be at high risk for developing Crohn’s disease over several years and measuring several factors before and after a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease is made.

Expectation: This research will allow for a better understanding of how human genetics, environmental and microbial changes intereact and contribute to the development of Crohn’s Disease.

Eligibility: Anyone who has been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease with a child (offspring) or sibling that is generally healthy between 6 and 35 years of age

Participation: For Individuals who have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease:
Enrollment involves a brief visit where details regarding their diagnosis are confirmed
You must have at least one healthy child (offspring) or sibling between the ages of 6 and 35 at the time of enrollment.
You will be asked to contact or provide contact information for your healthy child or sibling(s) so that they can be approached for enrollment into the study.

For Healthy Offspring/Sibling partcipants :

You Must be between the ages of 6 and 35 at the time of initial enrollment

You must have a parent or sibling that has been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease.

No Previous diagnosis of diabetes.

Enrollment involves approximately two 1 hour visits:
During the visits, questionnaires are completed regarding past environmental exposures, eating habits and medical history.

Four tubes of blood are collected

A stool sample is collected

A urine sample is collected

Healthy Sibling/Offspring participants are contacted every 6 months for several years to see if they develop Crohn’s Disease.

In the event Crohn’s Disease is confirmed, the child or sibling is asked to answer the questionnaires again and will be asked to provide another sample of blood, stool and urine samples.

Notes: Healthy Siblings/Offspring who do not develop Crohn’s Disease during the study, may be asked to answer the questionnaires and provide another set of blood, stool and urine samples in order to be used as a comparison group to help determine why some people develop Crohn’s Disease and others do not.


Contact Linda Rogala at 204-787-4740 for more information.