Donation supports Crohn’s disease and schizophrenia

An alumnus' donation has established a research fund named for his daughter

A very generous donation has been received by the Division of Rheumatology, Department of Pediatrics, from Paul Kowalchuk, a University of Saskatchewan alumnus (B.Ed. ’59), for the establishment of a research fund named for his daughter Debra Kowalchuk.

The $50,000 Debra Kowalchuk Research Fund will support the Division of Rheumatology’s research relating to intra-uterine inflammation as a determinant of future chronic diseases in the offspring (The PreDICTR Study; Pre-natal Determinants of Inflammatory Conditions – Transdisciplinary Research).

There is compelling evidence that inflammation during pregnancy can contribute to the development of chronic, inflammation-mediated diseases later in the child’s life. Among the diseases to be studied are inflammatory bowel disease (particularly Crohn’s disease) and neuropsychiatric disorders including schizophrenia; inflammation is implicated in the pathogenesis of both of these conditions. Studies supported by the Debra Kowalchuk Research Fund will investigate if exposures of the fetus to inflammatory proteins during pregnancy increase the risk of developing Crohn’s Disease or schizophrenia later in the child’s life.

With Kowalchuk’s daughter approaching 60 years of age, he acknowledges it’s unlikely that she would benefit from any research findings within her lifetime but Kowalchuk hopes the research will help future generations.

Additional funding from the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation that is supporting the PreDICTR Study will allow for investigating intra-uterine inflammation and the risk of developing other chronic diseases.