Meet the team

Anthony Otley MD MSc FRCPC Head, Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition

Dr. Otley is Head, Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition at the IWK Health Centre and Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Major research interests include clinical trials, and in particular the development and evaluation of outcome measures used in pediatric clinical trials. Development of disease-specific health related quality of life questionnaires for children with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) (the IMPACT questionnaire), and Post-liver Transplant (the PeLTQL questionnaire) are two examples. Other research areas include use of enteral nutrition as primary therapy in the management of Crohn’s disease, with special interest in understanding the role the gut flora may have to play.

Dr Otley is the Maritime principal investigator of the CHILD-CIHR Canadian pediatric IBD Network. This is a one of a kind Network which brings together the pediatric IBD clinics from across Canada – the centre piece project of this Network is enrolling and following newly diagnosed pediatric patients with IBD over time. He is leading the patient engagement work for this project.

Dr Otley is also the Maritime key applicant, and pediatric lead for the Inflammation, Microbiome, and Alimentation: Gastro-Intestinal and Neuropsychiatric Effects: the IMAGINE-SPOR chronic disease network, which is a $32 million dollar study to explore the relationship between the gut microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi), bowel disorders [IBD and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)] and mental health outcomes – to see how manipulating the gut microbes through dietary interventions, antibiotics, probiotics and fecal transplantation may improve the GI and mental health outcomes.

He is the founder of Camp Guts&Glory, the first week long camp for kids and teens with IBD in the Atlantic provinces, held for the past six years at Brigadoon Village in the Nova Scotia Annapolis Valley.

Johan Van Limbergen MD FRCPCH PhD Clinician Scientist, Canada Research Chair in Translational Microbiomics

Dr. Johan Van Limbergen is a clinician scientist in the Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition at the IWK Health Centre, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Medicine, Dalhousie University. Dr. Van Limbergen is the Canada Research Chair in Translational Microbiomics. He received his medical training from the University of Leuven in Belgium, and completed his specialist training in pediatrics and pediatric gastroenterology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and a fellowship in pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition at the Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, Canada. He earned a PhD in genetics from the University of Edinburgh, focusing on the genetic determinants and natural history of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and did further post-doctoral research on intestinal innate immune responses and stem cell biology at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Van Limbergen joined the IWK Health Centre and Dalhousie University in 2013. His major research interests include the role of genetic and microbial factors in IBD pathophysiology and response to different therapies, including dietary intervention. Dr. Van Limbergen is an associate member of the Centre for Comparative Genomics and Evolutionary Bioinformatics (CGEB) and a founding member of the CGEB-Integrated Microbiome Resource at Dalhousie University.

Dr. Van Limbergen’s research program also includes a translational mouse intestine stem cell or ‘enteroid’ model to study the role of microbial by-products (metabolites) in intestinal epithelial biology and immune responses.

Dr. Mohsin Rashid MD, MEd, AGAF, FRCP(C) Gastroenterologist

Dr. Rashid is a gastroenterologist and a Professor of Pediatrics with cross appointments as Professor in Department of Medicine and in the Division of Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University.

Dr. Rashid has a busy clinical practice at the IWK Health Centre. His academic interest is in medical education while his clinical and research interest is in celiac disease. As a member of the Professional Advisory Board of the Canadian Celiac Association (CCA) (, he assists the organization in providing services and support to persons with celiac disease through programs of awareness, advocacy, education and research. He has authored several research papers and review articles on celiac disease and has lectured extensively at national and international meetings with the objective of increasing awareness of this disorder amongst the health care professionals.

Dr. Rashid was the Principal Site Investigator on the multi-centre research study looking at the prevalence of malnutrition, its management and impact in hospitalized Canadian pediatric patients. He is also the Principal Site Investigator for the Canadian Biliary Atresia Registry which collects data on the clinical course and outcome of all children with biliary atresia in the country. Within the Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, he is a collaborator on several research studies on inflammatory bowel disease.

Andrew Stadnyk PhD Research Investigator

Dr. Stadnyk is a research investigator in the Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition at the IWK Health Centre, and Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Microbiology & Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University. Dr. Stadnyk received his Ph.D. at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario and subsequent postdoctoral training at the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, Seattle, Washington, USA. He joined Dalhousie University and the (then) IWK Children’s Hospital in 1990. Moving through the academic ranks, Dr. Stadnyk was promoted to full Professor in 2006.

Dr. Stadnyk’s major research interest is in inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, in particular, the contribution of the epithelium to inflammation including during inflammatory bowel disease and infectious colitis. He recently has included investigations into the roles of the epithelium and complement system in regulation of the gut microbiome. Through collaborations he has applied his expertise to study complement and chemotherapeutic drug induced mucositis. Dr. Stadnyk is a founding member of the Centre for Comparative Genomics and Evolutionary Bioinformatics “Integrated Microbiome Resource” at Dalhousie University.

Dr. Stadnyk enjoys sharing his science with the public and was acknowledged for this activity by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada awarding him their “Research Leadership” honor in 2010, and by the Halifax Discovery Centre choosing him as a finalist in their Science Champion category in 2014.

Jessica Connors PhD Gastroenterology Laboratory Manager & Research Associate

Dr. Connors completed her PhD in Microbiology & Immunology at Dalhousie University in 2013 and has been a Laboratory Manager & Research Associate for Dr. Van Limbergen since 2014. Her research interests include understanding how host-microbe interactions shape mucosal immune responses, and the role of intestinal microbiome features in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) pathogenesis. Dr. Connors is currently involved in several clinical and basic science studies for MIRA Peds that focus on microbiome changes associated with disease activity or treatment response in pediatric IBD patients. In her spare time, she enjoys hanging out with her husband and two children.

Bradley MacIntyre BScH Gastroenterology Research Manager & Clinical Research Coordinator

Brad started working with MIRA Peds in 2009 as the Research Assistant after receiving a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Neuroscience from Dalhousie University. As his research experience grew through working on many different MIRA Peds studies, his position evolved over time to Research Manager. He holds administrative responsibilities that facilitate the success of research studies by supporting the gastroenterologists and MIRA Peds staff members. Brad coordinates the clinical research studies which the gastroenterologists use to investigate different ways to treat diseases. These studies can provide patients additional treatment options and access to therapies not yet available outside a research study.

Melissa Crane BSc MHA Research Coordinator

Melissa is a research coordinator who has been working with MIRA Peds since September 2015. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology & Neuroscience from Acadia University, and a Master of Health Administration from Dalhousie University. Melissa is the Global Coordinator for a study called TUMMY-CD, which aims to create a validated patient reported signs and symptoms index for pediatric Crohn’s disease. She is also involved in various studies with MIRA on topics including patient engagement and knowledge translation. In her spare time, Melissa serves on the Emerging Health Leaders Nova Scotia Executive Council, and loves running with her dog.

Amy Postmaa BSc MA Research Coordinator

Amy is a Research Coordinator who has been working with MIRA Peds since 2010. She has a BSc with honours in Biopsychology from Mount Allison University and an MA in Special Education from the University of British Columbia. As a research coordinator Amy is involved in many aspects of research, including patient recruitment and engagement, collecting and reporting data, adherence and applications to research ethics, and communicating with other study sites and monitoring bodies. One of the major projects she is currently organizing is the CIDsCaNN study, a network project across Canada that follows newly diagnosed IBD patients. Although the majority of her work time is spent at her desk, she particularly appreciates getting to connect with patients and their families. When she is not at work, she is busy enjoying time with her three kids.

Jenna Hatfield BA BScHP Research Assistant

Jenna is a research assistant who has been working with MIRA Peds since January 2016. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion from Dalhousie University. As a research assistant, Jenna is part of most of the research studies that happen here at MIRA Peds. One of her main roles is working with patients and families to let them know about current research studies and helping them make an informed decision about which studies they would like to take part in. She also communicates and organizes upcoming study visits and study related tasks. In her spare time, Jenna enjoys going home to the Valley to visit with her family.

Lisa Parkinson-McGraw PDt Clinical Dietitian

Lisa is a clinical dietitian with the GI team. Lisa graduated from Mount St. Vincent University and did her dietetic internship at the IWK Health Centre. Lisa has worked at the IWK since 1992 in numerous areas including Mental Health, Diabetes and Neurology. Lisa has also worked in diabetes research and had her own private practice in Halifax specializing in Eating Disorder Treatment for teens and adults.

Lisa is a 2015 winner of the Stars Award for Clinical Excellence and was a previous winner of the Award of Excellence for Patient and Family Centered Care, awarded to the members of the Eating Disorder team.

Lisa cares for patients with a variety of GI conditions including IBD, celiac disease, intestinal failure, liver disease, IBS and others.

Jennifer Haskett BSNH, PDt Clinical Dietitian

Jennifer is a clinical dietitian with the Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition at the IWK Health Centre. She graduated from Acadia University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Nutrition and completed a graduate dietetic internship program through Capital District Health Authority (CDHA) in Nova Scotia. Jennifer worked briefly as an Administrative Dietitian at CDHA before joining the GI team at the IWK in 2005. Jennifer also has experience working in GI research, and as a Clinical Dietitian in the areas of General Pediatrics and Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at the IWK.

Jennifer has served on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Celiac Association—Nova Scotia Chapter, and founded Camp Silly-Yak, a week-long summer camp for children with celiac disease, held at Brigadoon Village in the Annapolis Valley. She was the lead in developing multi-disciplinary telehealth education sessions on celiac disease for patients and families across the Maritimes. Jennifer is involved in teaching dietetic students, as well as students from other disciplines and in 2014, was awarded the Silver Spoon award in recognition of her support of resident education.

Jennifer cares for patients with a variety of GI conditions including IBD, celiac disease, intestinal failure, liver disease, IBS, and others. She works as part of the multi-disciplinary team to care for GI patients and families on both an inpatient and outpatient basis.

Karen Buckle BA (Hons) Research Assistant

Karen is a research assistant who has been working with MIRA since August 2017. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (Honours) and Music from St. Thomas University. As a research assistant, Karen is involved with many of the research projects that happen at MIRA, particularly the network studies that follow newly diagnosed IBD patients in hospitals across Canada. One of her main roles is collecting and reporting data, but she also works closely with patients and families to let them know about current research opportunities and to organize their upcoming study visits and tasks. Outside of work, Karen enjoys playing the saxophone in community jazz bands.

Shelina Gordon MSW, RSW Pediatric Clinical Social Worker

Shelina Gordon is a Pediatric Clinical Social Worker with the Gastroenterology Team at the IWK. With over 4+ years of clinical experience in individual, family and group therapy employing theoretical frameworks and perspectives, she specializes in therapeutic modalities such as Motivation Interviewing (MI), Solution Focused Brief Interviewing, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and the Attachment, Regulation and Competency (ARC) Framework.
Shelina has a demonstrated knowledge of the determinants of health and current research on the impact of the health determinants on population health, health promotion strategies, and behavior change principles. Part of her works includes: Counselling patients and families coping with the impact of new and existing chronic illness diagnosis and treatment(s), case management, conducting psychosocial assessments, crisis counseling, resource and system navigation and clinical counseling.

Shelina is a graduate of the University of Waterloo with a Health Focused Master of Social Work, she also holds a Bachelor of Social Work and Bachelor of Arts (Sociology & Social Anthropology) from Dalhousie University.

Natalie Nymark BScN RN MN GI Nurse Coordinator

Natalie is a registered nurse with the GI clinic since February 2016. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Dalhousie University and a Master of Nursing with a teaching focus from Athabasca University. Natalie came to the MIRA Peds with a wide variety of nursing experience including Hematology, Oncology, Brain Tumor Clinic where she worked closely with their research teams, as well as general pediatrics where she was one of the nurse coordinators on a TRIC research grant. Natalie is excited to work with MIRA Peds to inform and improve patient care and well-being. In her spare time, Natalie enjoys spending time with her husband Kevin and their son Henry, especially if it involves the warm sun and a Nova Scotia beach.