Sabine Goldberg, 37 is a very busy mom. She is raising her energetic toddler, excelling at work and managing the unpredictability of living with IBD.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a group of disorders, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis that involve chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
At age 16, an athlete playing basketball and soccer at the provincial level, Sabine was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Supported by a team of gastroenterologists at the Centre for Inflammatory Bowel Disease at Mount Sinai Hospital, she tried many medications that resulted in limited relief – eventually undergoing surgery.
The program’s interprofessional approach provided her with highly specialized surgery, and team-based care to include clinical nutrition, social work and psychosocial support. When she and her husband started thinking about family planning, she participated in a Pregnancy & IBD research initiative. Led by Dr. Vivian Huang, gastroenterologist at the Centre, the clinic collaborates with colleagues in the Women’s and Infants’ Health program to optimize pre-conception care and manage IBD throughout pregnancy.
“Inflammatory Bowel Disease can strike at any time, however it is often diagnosed in younger adults. Our team supports the unique needs of these patients who are at a critical time in their lives – finishing school, starting careers, finding relationships and maybe starting a family,” says Dr. Adam Weizman, Medical Director of the IBD Program. “We provide expert care to the largest cohort of IBD patients in the country and tailor treatments and approaches to improve their quality of life.”
Part of delivering that expert care is also about helping to increase access for patients in underserviced areas. The Centre for Inflammatory Bowel Disease PACE IBD Telemedicine Program team of Dr. Geoffrey Nguyen and IBD-specialized gastroenterology colleagues, two registered nurses, a dietitian and a colorectal surgeon developed and implemented an initiative that continues to reduce wait times and improve access to specialist care in rural areas across Ontario.
Sabine meets regularly with her gastroenterologists via telemedicine, and she is on a medication that is proving effective in keeping the condition at bay. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the enduring support of my parents…and my husband, who’s been there for me through all the healing,” she says.
Mount Sinai Hospital’s Centre for Inflammatory Bowel Disease serves over 10,000 patients annually, many from outside of Toronto and Ontario. Additionally, the Zane Cohen Centre for Digestive Diseases is internationally acclaimed as a clinical research facility and leader in the understanding and treatment of gastrointestinal diseases.
The IBD program is leading research to better understand Crohn’s disease risk. Through the GEM (Genetic, Environmental, Microbial) project, a global research study, the Croitoru Lab based at the Centre for Inflammatory Bowel Disease is led by Dr. Kenneth Croitoru, together with IBD Program colleagues and system peers. The study followed asymptomatic first-degree relatives of individuals with Crohn’s disease. The researchers measured intestinal permeability in 1,420 individuals and followed-up on average at 7.8 years. They reported a strong association between increased intestinal permeability and future Crohn’s disease risk, and their findings support the potential use of increased intestinal permeability as a risk biomarker to help inform new prevention strategies.