Kinderinfectieziekten & immunologie

Clinical scientists

Michiel van der Flier MD PhD

The major focus of the research is on the molecular determinants of children’s susceptibility to severe bacterial infections. Bacteria like the pneumococcus colonize all children but cause life-threatening infections in only a few . In addition, some children have  a known high risk for severe bacterial infection: immunodeficiencies (such as ataxia telangiectasia; complement deficiency) or very young age (immunodeficiency of immaturity). Current projects explore the role of genetic polymorphisms in susceptibility to severe bacterial  infection and complement in pneumococcal infection. (www.ped-big.nlwww.euclids-project.eu). Preventive and therapeutic measures in high risk children are studied clinically.

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Research focus

The major research focus of the clinical and laboratory research group  is to understand the  host-pathogen interactions  of major  bacterial and viral pathogens in children.  The level of maturity of the (innate) immune system in the first stages of life and the individual genetic make-up  are critical determinants of  the susceptibility  and severity of disease in children. We study infections with  Streptococcus pneumonia, Bordetella pertussis , Haemophilus influenzae, and respiratory syncytical virus (RSV). The strengths of the clinical and laboratory research group  are in the study of the host response to infection in relevant cohorts of children including –omics studies, bacterial molecular biology and genomics;  human in vitro and animal models of disease; and vaccination models. Areas of medical therapeutics applicable to this work include  vaccine design, therapeutic  intervention in severe infection, development of new diagnostic tools.

The Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunology research Group is part of the Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (RIMLS), Theme Infectious Diseases and Global Health.

Clinical and laboratory research group members

Head of laboratory

Marien de Jonge PhD

The main research interest is focused on understanding host-pathogen interactions and mucosal immune responses especially focusing on the bacterial pathogens Bordetella pertussis and Streptococcus pneumoniae. Immunological insights into the pathophysiology of these pathogens will help to improve vaccine strategies and enhance protection. Current projects explore novel strategies for mucosal antigen-adjuvant delivery for the development of intranasal vaccines and innovative diagnostic strategies for point of care testing.

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Post-docs

Jeroen D. Langereis PhD

Bacteria such as Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pneumoniae colonize the nasopharyngeal cavity without causing clinical signs of disease. However, these bacteria are also found to cause otitis media, pneumonia and sepsis in children. Why these colonizing bacteria are able to cause disease is not completely understood.

My research is focused on identifying bacterial mechanisms that are required for these pathogens to cause disease. The ultimate goal is to identify, characterize and subsequently disrupt these mechanisms by for instance vaccination and novel antibiotics to prevent disease development or progression.

Current projects are identification and characterization of mechanisms that increase resistance to complement-mediated killing, mechanisms that are required for biofilm formation and development of in-vitro models that mimic growth of Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pneumoniae in the lungs.

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Professors

Prof Ronald de Groot, MD, PhD  

Ronald de Groot is emeritus professor of pediatrics and a pediatric infectious diseases specialist with an interest in clinical, immunological, molecular and vaccine research on childhood sepsis, meningitis, respiratory tract infections, HIV/AIDS, and neonatal infections. His current research focuses on the microbial pathogenesis and immunogenetics of severe bacterial and viral infections by S. pneumoniae, N. meningitidis, B. pertussis, RSV, and other viruses. He participates in several large national and international studies on genetics and host response of bacterial and viral infections, including an FP7 and an IMI2 project. Professor De Groot is a member  of  the  Dutch  Health  Council,  the Central  Committee  on  Research  involving Human Subjects (CCMO). He is past president of the Pediatric Association of the Netherlands (1998 – 2004). In 2008, he was the recipient of the Bill Marshall Award of the European Society of Paediatric Infectious Diseases (ESPID), and in 2011 he received the Edgar Doncker Prize for Pediatrics which included funding for influenza research in children. Professor de Groot  was president of the European Society of Paediatric Infectious Diseases (2012 – May 2015).

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Group leaders

Dimitri Diavatopoulos PhD

My research focuses on understanding the biological principles underlying protective immunity to both colonization and disease caused by respiratory pathogens, with a particular focus on bacterial pathogens such as Bordetella pertussis and Streptococcus pneumoniae. By studying immune responses to natural infection and/or vaccination in previously healthy children as well as immune compromised children, I aim to bridge clinical and basic science to generate knowledge on protective immune signatures. Current projects are aimed at generating knowledge on immune responses to pertussis (Periscope consortium), the optimization of vaccination strategies in patients with stem cell transplantations and the role of genetic diversity in bacterial pathogens in vaccine efficacy (collaboration with RIVM).

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