A Calgary doctor is looking for siblings or children of people with Crohn’s disease to participate in a national study called the GEM project. 

The researchers know there’s a genetic link to the disease, but they want to understand why the genetic susceptibility only causes disease in some people, but not others.

For instance, the four children in the Hemminger family are ideal candidates for the study.

One son, 23-year-old Travis has the Crohn’s disease, his three siblings do not.

The question is what triggered the disease in Travis, but not the others?

Travis’s brother and two sisters are enrolled in the study.  They are at higher risk of developing the disease.

Researchers have analyzed blood and stool samples from all three, as well as examined their lifestyle.

If one of the siblings goes on to develop the disease, then the researchers have an ideal opportunity to make a before and after comparison.

Dr. Gil Kaplan from the University of Calgary says “people in my clinic are always asking me why did this happen to me, is this going to happen to my children and this is the study that is going to help us answer those questions”.

The Genetics, Environmental, Microbial (GEM) Project is a Canadian-led international research study investigating the causes of Crohn’s disease. For more information and how to join the study you can go to the GEM Project website.