Dr. Veldhuyzen van Zanten has been a member of the University of Alberta GI Division since 2006. He.is an Academic Gastroenterologist who went to medical school and did his Internal Medicine training in Holland. He did his GI training and a Master’s in Clinical Epidemiology at McMaster’s University in Hamilton, Canada from 1986 to 1990. In 1992, he received a PhD in Medicine on the topic of "Clinical Aspects of Helicobacter pylori infection" from the University of Amsterdam.
From 1990 to 2006 he worked at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. In Halifax, he served for five years as the Program Director of the Core Internal Medicine Program. In his last three years at Dalhousie University he held the Howard Webster Department of Medicine Research Chair.
He was recruited to the University of Alberta to become the Director of the GI Division in 2006. He also was the Regional Section Head of Gastroenterology for the Edmonton Zone. In 2017 he stepped down as Divisional Director. In 2017 he became the Senior Medical Director of the newly formed Strategic Clinical Network in Digestive Health. The aim of Strategic Clinical Network is to improve the overall quality of GI and Hepatology care across the province of Alberta, to analyze variations in care and outcomes of care and propose solutions to improve this, and finally to try and optimize the use of resources with the aim to achieve cost savings.
Since arriving in Edmonton, he has concentrated on several areas:
- Enhancing the overall academic research activity of the Division.
- Developing a cohesive GI Program for the Edmonton Zone.
- Developing and testing a triage system for outpatients in luminal Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
- Starting quality-assurance activities in areas of wait times, patient satisfaction with colonoscopy procedures, and compliance with follow-up recommendations, following removal of polyps in the colon.
- Move to full usage of an Electronic Medical Record at the University of Alberta
- Continued his research in Helicobacter pylori.
His main research interest has been in clinical aspects of upper GI disorders. He has done numerous trials in uninvestigated and uninvestigated dyspepsia, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and gastric and duodenal ulcers. This includes many studies on Helicobacter pylori and its role in the upper GI diseases, evaluations of diagnostic tests and studies on treatment and antibiotic resistance. He has also done several trials evaluating management of functional dyspepsia and a series of management trials in uninvestigated dyspepsia in primary care. Up to January 2019, he has published more than 200 articles in peer-reviewed journals. A special interest relates to research methodology in the conduct of dyspepsia studies. He was chair of the first ROME Committee design of clinical trials in functional GI disorders and was a committee member for the same topic in the ROME III working party on functional GI disorders.
With regard to research, Helicobacter pylori infection of the stomach continues to be a focus of interest. Together with Dr. Karen Goodman, PhD Clinical Epidemiologist in the GI Division and help from others, a comprehensive research program has been developed to look at the health consequences of Helicobacter pylori in the Canadian North. The prevalence of this infection is very high (60%) in Northern Canadian communities. This research program has been very successful in attracting peer-reviewed funding from e.g. CIHR, the Canadian Arctic Network, and local government agencies in the Northwest Territories and Yukon. An interesting component of the research program has been the ability to offer unsedated gastroscopies, which to date has taken place in several small communities: Aklavik, NWT, Fort MacPherson, NWT, Old Crow, Yukon, Teslin, Yukon and Ross River, Yukon. These studies document the frequency of abnormalities, such as stomach ulcers and inflammation in the stomach (gastritis. By obtaining biopsies (tissue specimens taken from the stomach) this project is also able to determine how severe and extensive the inflammation is in infected individuals and for treatment to evaluate which treatment regimens are the most effective in curing the infection.
Dr. van Zanten continues to do research in treatment of Helicobacter pylori. Special interest are investigating how resistance to antibiotics impact on the success of the different anti Helicobacter treatments that are available and evaluation of diagnostic tests.
Of the last ten years, he has increasingly becoming trusted in quality improvement and quality assurance and has done studies on how GI care is delivered. He started a quality assurance program in endoscopy across the Edmonton zone. With the help of the SCN and the Alberta Colon Cancer Screening Program this project is now becoming the standard in all endoscopy units in the province. Recently, he studied how patients with upper or lower GI bleeding are managed in emergency rooms and during their hospital stay.
Dr. van Zanten also has an interest in lower GI disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease.
He recently also has become interested in eosinophilic esophagitis. Eosinophilic esophagitis is an emerging disease that is relatively poorly understood. Patients with eosinophilic esophagitis often present with difficulty swallowing and although it is clear that allergies may play a role, the reasons for the change of the epidemiology of this disease is not clear.
New recent research interests include celiac disease and management of upper and lower GI bleeding.