Institute of Cellular Medicine

Staff Profile

Dr Marieke Emonts-le Clercq

Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer

Background

As consultant Paediatric Infectious Diseases & Immunology and Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer I have a sound background in clinic and research from the start. I studied Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in Leiden, the Netherlands, after which I combined my Paediatric training with a PhD post in the Paediatric Infectious Diseases Laboratory at Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

I completed my PhD on immunogenetics of infectious and inflammatory diseases in 2008. Initially focussing on meningococcal disease I broadened my horizon to include other bacterial infections. My PhD formed the start of wonderful collaborations resulting in participation in two large European funded consortia.

The overarching theme in activities is the promotion of therapeutic possibilities for childhood infections, particularly in an era of increasing antimicrobial resistance. This requires focus of the research on:

1.     Early recognition of the type of infection: bacterial vs viral, and type of bacterial infection. This can minimise the unnecessary use of antimicrobials in patients presenting with fever at an A&E, and thus prevent antimicrobial resistance.

2.     Identification of alternative therapeutic targets, particularly in recurrent infective conditions to circumvent antimicrobial resistance. Innate immune factors could be these targets and elucidating their role in infection will aid in identifying which ones could also be targeted for prevention and/or treatment.

3.     Participation in randomised controlled trials facilitating registration of safe and effective antimicrobial/antiviral drugs for paediatric use.

 

Please click on the research tab above for further details.

 

This theme is also reflected in my work as consultant Paediatric Infectious Diseases & Immunology at the Great North Children's Hospital (GNCH) where I look after children with (severe) bacterial, fungal and viral infections. These include meningitis, osteomyelitis (in collaboration with the paediatric orthopaedic team) and a congenital CMV infections. With our team we provide a consultation service as part of the antimicrobial stewardship program.

 


Research

My work spans basic science, observational research and randomised controlled trials (RCTs). The work focuses on infectious diseases in children with an interest in early diagnosis and innate immunity.

Additionally I conduct projects aimed at evaluation of infection management with direct impact on clinical practice.

 

EUCLIDS (European childhood life threatening infectious diseases study) is a large FP7 funded project looking at genetics of severity and susceptibility of infection using bacterial meningitis and sepsis as a model. Using RNA expression analysis disease specific profiles are being assessed to identify relevant pathways. Our collaborators explore findings in our patient population in in vitro and animal models.

PERFORM (Personalised medicine for febrile illness) is an €18 million collaborative project funded under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme for research and innovation.

This five-year project will look at ways to reduce antibiotic misuse, through the development of improved tests used to distinguish bacterial from viral infections. Currently, doctors have very limited capacity to reliably differentiate life-threatening bacterial infections from trivial viral illnesses in children. As a result, thousands of children worldwide undergo investigations such as lumbar punctures, x-rays and blood cultures, and are treated with broad spectrum antibiotics while waiting to rule out bacterial infection. Better tests to identify those children with life threatening infection amongst the infinitely more numerous children with viral infections are urgently needed if antibiotic use is to be reduced. PERFORM will apply sophisticated genomic and proteomic methods to study thousands of febrile children with the aim of identifying and developing a better test for bacterial infection than what is currently available.

Newcastle will lead on the cohort including immunocompromised patients in whom infection risk is increased and diagnosing cause of infection can be very challenging.

I welcome contact from any students or potential collaborators who may be interested in working with us.

 

Collaborators

The EUCLIDS project involves collaboration with investigator from multiple sites in the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Singapore, and Gambia.


PERFORM is conducted in UK sites (Liverpool, London, Oxford, Newcastle), the Netherlands (Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Nijmegen), Spain (Santiago de Compostella), Austria (Graz), Germany (Munich), Latvia, Greece (Athens), Gambia, Australia, Switzerland, and Singapore. Collaborators involved in Newcastle are:

Clinical: Dr Emma Lim and dr Rachel Agbeko

Business School Centre for Knowledge Innovation Technology and Enterprise (KITE): Professor Rob Wilson, Professor Mike Martin, Dr Lucille Valentine

ICM D&TT Research Group: Professor Calum McNeil and Dr Neil Keegan

 

We participate in recruitment of patients for other studies such as CHIMES (Oxford and Liverpool lead) and in the past Dinosaur (Southampton lead).

 

We are an active site for recruitment for patients for NIH (DMID-11-0069) and commercial (DAP-PEDOST) funded trials.

 

INIMUTI is a pilot project looking at innate immunity in UTI in collaboration with DrsJudith Hall and Philip Aldridge (Institute for Cell & Molecular Biosciences).

 

Current grants:

FP7: EUCLIDS

H2020: PERFORM

Teaching

I am involved in the clinical teaching of medical students in paediatrics at GNCH.

I supervise undergraduate medical student SSC projects and Erasmus students in Paediatric Infectious Diseases and welcome anyone contacting me who may be interested.

Publications