Your Key to IBD at Mac Kids

Our Team

Elyanne Ratcliffe

Dr. Elyanne Ratcliffe did her undergraduate and medical studies at McMaster University. She returned as a faculty member in the Department of Pediatrics in 2007, after completing a post-doctoral fellowship in neurogastroenterology and beginning her academic career at Columbia University. Dr. Ratcliffe is a member of the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute with a research focus in the developmental programming of the gastrointestinal tract. She clinical interests include aerodigestive and complex motility disorders. She is the Division Head of Gastroenterology and Nutrition.

Mary Sherlock

Dr. Mary Sherlock is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Gastroenterology at McMaster University. Originally from Ireland, Dr. Sherlock completed her medical and pediatric training in Dublin, before joining the Gastroenterology Fellowship Program at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. The fellowship entailed both clinical and research activities and provided the opportunity to care for children with a variety of acute and chronic gastrointestinal disorders. In 2011, Dr. Sherlock completed her PhD in Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Toronto. The focus of her PhD related to pediatric inflammatory bowel disease.
Since joining McMaster’s Department of Pediatrics in 2011, Dr. Sherlock has provided exceptional care for her young patients, while continuing her research and academic pursuits. She has published papers on IBD and related topics and recently co-authored the book, The dermatology of inflammatory bowel disease: A primer for gastroenterologists.

Herbert Brill

Dr. Herbert Brill is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Division of Gastroenterology in the Department of Pediatrics at McMaster University, and Co-Lead for the Celiac and Hepatology Clinics at McMaster Children’s Hospital. He trained at the University of Toronto, Western University, Queen's University and McGill University. He completed his training in Gastroenterology at the Montreal Children's Hospital while pursuing a Masters of Business Administration at McGill. His clinical interests encompass chronic liver disease, pediatric inflammatory bowel disease, and general gastroenterology. His research interests focus on efficiency and effectiveness in clinical practice operations, including waiting times and transition from pediatric to adult patient care services.

Nikhil Pai

Dr. Nikhil Pai is an Associate Professor in the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology at McMaster Children’s Hospital. He completed his training at McMaster University, the Hospital for Sick Children (University of Toronto), and Boston Children's Hospital (Harvard Medical School). He is the Medical Lead of the Complex Pediatric Nutrition Service and Intestinal Failure team. Dr. Pai leads an active research program focussing on the role of the intestinal microbiome in pediatric inflammatory bowel disease, particularly through the application of a highly innovative therapy, fecal microbiota transplant (FMT). He is principal investigator of the first randomized-controlled trials of FMT in pediatrics: the PediFeTCh Trial, and PediCRaFT Trial.

His research also expands to pediatric nutrition, particularly through its intersection with the intestinal microbiome. Dr. Pai is a full-time clinician-educator within the Department of Pediatrics, and manages a busy inpatient, outpatient, and endoscopy practice within the division.

Robert Issenman

Dr. Bob Issenman is a Professor of Pediatrics at McMaster University. He attended Harvard, l’Université de Montreal and McMaster Universities. Dr. Issenman completed his Pediatric training at McGill University (Montreal Children's Hospital) and his GI Fellowship at Harvard Medical School (Children's Hospital Medical Centre-Boston). He has practiced for more than 30 years and published many studies in childhood nutrition, pediatric IBD and Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome.

Dr. Issenman is Past President of the Canadian Paediatric Society, a past member of the Governing Council of the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition and Past President of the Healthy Generations Foundation

Mary Zachos

Dr. Mary Zachos is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at McMaster University. Dr. Zachos completed her medical training at the University of Toronto and her pediatric and subspecialty training at the Hospital for Sick Children. Dr. Zachos worked at the Hospital for Sick Children after completing her training with a focus on pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). She joined the Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition at McMaster Children's Hospital in 2009 with clinical interests in IBD and endoscopy.

Dr. Zachos has expanded her interests in medical education after becoming the training program director for Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition in 2015. She currently co-leads the pediatric competency based medical education committee and is a member of the pediatric mentorship committee.

Jenna Dowhaniuk

Dr. Jenna K Dowhaniuk is an Assistant professor in the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition at McMaster Children’s Hospital, McMaster University. She completed her training at McMaster University and joined the division in 2016. She holds a Masters of Medical Sciences, focused on translational research in mucosal immunity and microbiota. Her research focus includes how diet and gut microbiota intersect in gastrointestinal disease, pediatric celiac disease, and nutrition in inflammatory bowel disease. Dr. Dowhaniuk is the medical co-lead of the pediatric celiac disease clinic at McMaster Children’s Hospital and is involved in quality improvement and innovation to improve healthcare for children with gastrointestinal disease.

Nurse Practitioner - Emily Brackenridge

Nurse Navigator Responsibilities
● Supporting patients and families in their interactions with the health care team: from diagnosis of IBD to treatment and beyond.
● Educating patients and families about their chronic disease diagnosis and treatments.
● Developing educational materials and directing patients and families towards reliable resources for further information.
● Referring patients to Social Workers or Child Life to assist with overcoming barriers to treatment goals.
● Managing timely appointment scheduling for tests and procedures.
● Answering questions or liaising with doctors to address patient/family’s questions and concerns.
● Providing emotional support and empowerment to patients and their loved ones.

Clinic Nurse - Lisa Kennedy

Experience has clearly shown that communication between all team members (the "home team" and the "coaching staff") is key to the success of our program and to the health of our patients. To make sure that patient care is the best that it can be, the Nurse Coordinator acts as the "team captain" and the link between patients, families, and other programme staff.
The Nurse Coordinator:
● helps educate the patient and family
● organizes each patient's plan of care
● monitors patients between their clinic visits
● collaborates with team members to track patient progress
● advocates for the patient and family
● helps conduct research about pediatric IBD
● supports the "graduation"" of pediatric IBD patients to the Adult GI Service, after their 18th birthday

Patient Transition Navigator - Chris Radoja

As the Navigator this person will assist you in preparing for your transition in the following ways:
● Guide and support you through the transition process
● Teach and Promote self-care and advocacy
● Help individuals overcome barriers
● Individualize the education and assistance needed on IBD and transition
● Collaborate with both multidisciplinary Transition teams: Pediatric IBD and AYA (Adolescent and Young Adults IBD) Teams
● Help assess areas of readiness and of improvement by using the TransQ questionnaire found on the MYTransition app.
● Continue to guide your transition into adult clinic when 18-22yrs or anytime in between.


Heather Milewski

Joanne Saab

Nutrition is especially important to growing children and teens.
To ensure that our patients eat foods they like and meet their body’s nutritional needs, the clinic dietitian works with our patients and their families.
Nutritional issues for IBD patients are discussed in the nutrition section.

Social Work - Susan Turner

Having a child or teen diagnosed with IBD can be a stressful and challenging experience for the whole family. Social workers help patients and their families cope with the practical and emotional concerns that accompany this diagnosis. Social workers play an important role in the IBD clinic and believe in building on the strengths of each patient and family. They work with the rest of the IBD team to ensure that the patient and family reach their full potential. Our clinic social workers get to meet most patients and families, and take the time needed to find out more about each patient, about what concerns them, and what matters most to them. Although this information can be kept private, if the patient wishes, sharing their worries with others may be a big step in patients getting better. In addition to being great listeners, social workers are also great counsellors and problem solvers. They can help identify and develop ways to cope with difficulties, and to maintain healthy supportive relationships. They can also identify resources in the community, and provide support with education or school-related issues.
As with all members of the IBD team, our social workers are sometimes involved in research projects aimed at improving the quality of life for all our young patients.

Child Life - Sheryl Christie

Child Life Specialists work with our younger patients, as well as with children and teens who are having a difficult time coping with their illness.
A Child Life Specialist provides psychosocial care to children and youth by helping them:
● understand and prepare for tests and procedures
● develop strategies to relax and to cope with stress or pain
● express their emotions
● follow treatment recommendations
● develop strategies to manage behaviours

A Child Life Specialist can, as needed:
● meet with patients at the time of diagnosis to assess their initial understanding and coping, then be available for follow-up on an ongoing basis
● provide age-appropriate teaching about IBD, and help patients voice their questions and concerns about their diagnosis
help patients learn how to swallow pills
● meet with patients during their clinic appointments, or (if a Specialist is available) provide support during appointments outside of regular visits
●help patients develop strategies to cope and to advocate for themselves at school
● arrange peer support opportunities
Because Child Life Specialists work with inpatients as well as outpatients, they are available to help pediatric IBD patients when they need inpatient care at Mac Kids.