Meet Dr. Kevan Jacobson

Dr. Kevan Jacobson is a pediatric gastroenterologist with a specialty in inflammatory bowel disease. He’s also Division Head of Pediatric Gastroenterology at BC Children’s Hospital, where at any one time there are about 500 IBD patients under care — or 96% of British Columbian kids with IBD.

Every year about 100 of these children make the transition from pediatric to adult care. Through the nurturing and supportive environment of the Young Adults with IBD Clinic at The IBD Centre of BC, Dr. Jacobson and his team are hoping to improve the outcomes of these patients by teaching teens with IBD how to become advocates for themselves.

The medical team is also working to help parents support the process: “Parents have to be part of the transfer process and we have to engage and involve them and ultimately teach them how to step back and let go. That’s easier to do when they realize their kids have the right tools,” says Dr. Jacobson.

According to Dr. Jacobson, the excellent quality of care and holistic approach at The IBD Centre of BC is the ideal transition environment. He says about 25% of the children and teens he treats suffer from anxiety and depression in conjunction with their disease. The fact that The IBD Centre of BC has a staff psychologist amongst its numerous healthcare professionals means his patients will have support for the inherent emotional challenges that accompany being a young adult with a chronic disease.

Dr. Jacobson started his career training as an internist in South Africa. He moved to Canada in 1988 to complete his internal medicine training, followed by training in adult and pediatric gastroenterology and a research fellowship in IBD. After completing his training he started practice at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, until moving to BC in 1999. He has been treating and studying kids with IBD for more than 20 years.

He says he finds working with kids and their families both challenging and incredibly rewarding: “The thing about kids is they have this resilience and an unbelievable capacity to bounce back even when they’re sick — it’s amazing to be able to treat them and to get them well so they can go back to school and get an education and become a responsible adult.”

He says that’s another reason he’s getting involved in the Young Adults with IBD Clinic — to see his pediatric patients succeed as adults. “It’s nice to see these kids grow up and have their own families. Getting them well, that’s the most enjoyable part of this whole job.”

In addition to his clinical practice and his work with The IBD Centre of BC, Dr. Jacobson also has a research laboratory where he studies the biology of IBD and looks for ways to improve treatment. He is also examining why the disease has become more complex over the last 20 years and why it tends to present more frequently and particularly acutely in the immigrant Indian population. He and the team at the Young Adults with IBD Clinic will also be collecting data to measure outcomes for the transition process.

In his limited spare time, Dr. Jacobson likes to read, exercise and travel. He is also a passionate animal lover.