Diederik van de Beek

Bacterial CNS infections

We are fascinated by the question how it is possible that one person remains healthy, the other becomes critically ill but recovers, and another person dies of (neurological) infectious diseases. To unravel this, we investigate infectious disease in an innovative approach from the side of both pathogen and patient, and, as the most complex part, at the interaction between pathogen and patient.

Our mission is to decrease the burden of neurological infections. We will do so by improving prevention, diagnostics and treatment. To reach these aims we perform translational research, combining laboratory experiments, clinical trials, cohort studies, meta-analyses, and implementation research.

Current research topics are bacterial meningitis, encephalitis, immunology after stroke, neurosarcoidosis and Covid-19.

Research team

Head of the team

Prof. dr. Diederik van de Beek

(1974), MD, PhD, FEAN, qualified in Medicine from the University of Amsterdam in 1999 and specialized in neurology at the Academic Medical Center (2000 to 2006). He spent his postdoctoral time at the Mayo Clinics (Rochester, Minnesota, US). He is scientific director of the research institute Amsterdam Neuroscience.

Team members
  • Dr. Matthijs Brouwer

    (1977), MD, PhD, qualified in Medicine from the University of Amsterdam in 1999 and specialized in neurology at the Academic Medical Center (2004 to 2010). He spent his postdoctoral time at the Klinikum Grosshadern (Munich, Germany).

  • Dr. Merijn Bijlsma
    (1978), MD, PhD, qualified in Medicine from the University of Amsterdam in 2006 and specialized in pediatrics at the VU University Medical Center (2007 to 2012).Dr. Marian van Roon (1960), PhD, qualified in chemistry at the VU University Amsterdam. She spent her postdoctoral time at the Universities of Edingburgh (UK) and Toronto (Canada), and is expert in genetically modified animal models.

  • Dr. Bart Ferwerda (1978), PhD, qualified in biology at the VU University Amsterdam. He got his PhD degree in 2010 for his thesis “Genetic variation in the innate immune system and susceptibility to infections”. He spent his postdoctoral time at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, US).
  • Dr. Joo Yeon Lee-Engelen (1979), MD, PhD, qualified in medicine in South-Korea and the US. She worked in Canada and Great-Britain and specialized as a neuropathologist in the University Medical Center Utrecht (2013).
  • Dr. Willeke Westendorp (1983), MD, PhD, qualified in medicine from the Utrecht University in 2008 and specialized in neurology at the Academic Medical Center (2013 to 2019).
  • Inge Hoogland (1985), MD, qualified in medicine from the University of Amsterdam in 2012 and specialized in neurology at the Academic Medical Center (2014 to 2020).
  • Dr. Eduardo de Sousa Soares (1987), PhD, studied genetics and molecular biology at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. He has worked in Boston, Paris, and Nijmegen.
  • Leroy ten Dam (1989), MD, PhD, qualified in medicine from the University of Amsterdam in 2013 and specialized in neurology at the Academic Medical Center (2015 to 2020)
Technicians
  • Valery Jaspers, MSc, qualified in medical microbiology at the Utrecht University. She leads animal experiments in our group
  • Wing Kit Man, MSc, qualified in biomedical sciences at the University of Amsterdam. He specialized in the genetics of bacterial meningitis pathogens
PhD student
  • Daan Fritz, MD, qualified in medicine from the University of Amsterdam, studies neurosarcoidosis, a chronic granulomatous, multi-system disease.
  • Merel Koopmans, MD, qualified in medicine from the Utrecht University, studies listeria meningitis.
  • Kin Ki Jim, MD, qualified in medicine from the University of Amsterdam, studies host-pathogen interaction in a zebrafish embryo model of bacterial meningitis.
  • Philip H.C. Kremer, MD, qualified in medicine and pharmacy from the Utrecht University, studies host and bacterial genetics in bacterial meningitis.
  • Ingeborg E. van Zeggeren, MD, qualified in medicine from the University of Amsterdam, studies novel diagnostics in CNS infections.
  • Diederik L.H. Koelman, MD, qualified in medicine from the University of Amsterdam, studies complement inhibition in bacterial meningitis.
  • Kirsten R.I.S. Dorresteijn, MD, qualified in medicine from the Erasmus University, studies CSF shunt relation bacterial meningitis.
  • Sara P. Dias, MD, qualified in medicine from the Universidade de Lisboa, studies sex differences in bacterial meningitis.
  • Liora ter Horst, MD, qualified in medicine from the qualified in medicine from the University of Amsterdam, studies novel diagnostics in CNS infections.
  • Rutger Koning, MD, qualified in medicine from the University of Amsterdam, studies the translation of host and bacterial genetics in bacterial meningitis.
  • Sabine E. Olie, MD, qualified in medicine from the University of Amsterdam, studies novel diagnostics in CNS infections.
  • Linde Snoek, MD, qualified in medicine from the University of Amsterdam, studies group B streptococcal sepsis and meningitis.
  • Thijs van Soest, MD, qualified in medicine from the University of Amsterdam, studies community acquired bacterial meningitis.
  • Nora Chekrouni, MD, qualified in psychobiology and medicine from the University of Amsterdam, studies community acquired bacterial meningitis.
  • Shahrzad S. Deliran, MD, qualified in medicine from the University of Amsterdam, studies cerebrovascular complications in bacterial meningitis.
  • Nina S. Groeneveld, MD, qualified in medicine from the University of Amsterdam, studies novel diagnostics in paediatric CNS infections.
  • Endry T. Lim, MD, qualified in medicine from the VU University, studies C5a inhibition in severe COVID19 pneumonia.
  • Koos van Dam, MD, qualified in medicine from the University of Amsterdam studies coronavirus vaccination in risk groups.
News & Publications

Decrease in mortality of bacterial meningitis

In bacterial meningitis, a life-threatening infection of the brain, the host’s inflammatory response causes brain damage. Streptococcus pneumoniae – the pneumococcus - is the most common causative bacterium of bacterial meningitis (in 75%). In 2002, we published a landmark study showing that patients with bacterial meningitis should be treated not only with antibiotics to kill the bacteria, but also with the anti-inflammatory drug, dexamethasone. Patients with bacterial meningitis worldwide are now treated also with dexamethasone, which has halved the morality rate of pneumococcal meningitis, saving hundreds of lives each day.

The interaction between pathogen and patient

The disease burden of meningitis remains high. By analyzing the DNA of bacteria and patients, blood and cerebrospinal fluid of patients with meningitis, clues emerged about the disease process and how to intervene. He was the first to evaluate the interaction of genome wide variation between host and a bacterium. Mutations in the DNA of bacteria or the patient can cause the inflammatory reaction to be extra violent. For the development of new treatments, we focus on the complement system, the first line of defense and a real booster of inflammation.

Amsterdam UMC Covid-19 biobank

When the first patients with Covid-19 from China were reported, parallels were quickly noticed between Covid-19 and meningitis. Dexamethasone also proved to be a successful treatment with Covid-19. We set up the Amsterdam UMC Covid-19 biobank, one of the largest in the world and accessible for researchers worldwide, which has resulted in landmark studies in Covid-19 describing genetic risk factors, the overshoot of the hosts’ immune response and new potential treatment. We performed a clinical randomized trial with a complement system inhibitor in Covid-19, of which the initial results are promising.

Grants

Dr. Brouwer recently received an ERC Consolidator and VIDI grant. Prof. Van de Beek received a VICI grant.

Publications

Diederik van Beek - Publications

Contact

Prof. Dr.  Diederik van de Beek

Email: D.vandeBeek@amsterdamumc.nl

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