Institute of Cellular Medicine

Staff Profile

Professor John Simpson

Professor of Respiratory Medicine, Newcastle University

Background

I am a member of the Respiratory Medicine Research Group

Our research group is principally interested in understanding innate immune dysfunction in the setting of critical illness, with a view to developing biomarkers and novel treatments. Further details are found in the adjacent RESEARCH section. Selected publications are shown in the adjacent PUBLICATIONS section.

My clinical interests are in nosocomial infection (particularly pneumonia), pulmonary embolism and interstitial lung disease. I moved to Newcastle in 2010, having previously worked in the University of Edinburgh / MRC Centre for Inflammation Research, and in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

Current roles 

Director of the NIHR Newcastle In Vitro Diagnostics Co-operative, one of a number of Co-operatives established in order to improve methodological evaluation, and implementation into practice, of in vitro diagnostics (IVDs). The NIHR Newcastle In Vitro Diagnostics Co-operative welcomes and encourages contact from IVD companies and from academics with an interest in developing IVDs.

Previous roles

Dean of Translational Research, Newcastle University, June 2015-August 2018.

Clinical Director of R&D in Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, 2013-February 2016.


Research

Our group’s work spans basic science, experimental medicine and randomised controlled trials (RCTs). The work focuses principally on innate immunity (with particular reference to neutrophil and monocyte function), and how this is impaired in critical illness.

We have identified biomarkers that effectively exclude ventilator-associated pneumonia in critically ill patients, and we are currently undertaking a multi-centre, randomised controlled trial (VAPRapid) to establish if these biomarkers can usefully influence antibiotic stewardship.

We have identified mechanisms by which neutrophils acquire a defect in phagocytic capacity during critical illness, and we have shown that this defect is independently associated with significantly increased risk of developing nosocomial infection in the intensive care unit (ICU). We have also described novel means by which to restore phagocytosis to normal (for example using GM-CSF), and we recently carried out an RCT (GRiP) of GM-CSF versus placebo in critically ill patients with evidence of impaired neutrophil phagocytosis.

Other related projects in the group include: studies of mitochondrial function during sepsis; regulation of neutrophil degranulation; biological effects of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) “mimics”; innate immune effects of inhaled LPS in human volunteers; and innate immune effects of surgical trauma.Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Charities have recently funded a project expanding our LPS work to study endotoxaemia in healthy volunteers.

We also contribute to clinical research projects related to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and pulmonary embolism.

Collaborators

The VAPRapid project involved collaboration with 24 UK intensive care units.

We are part of the MRC-funded SHIELD consortium, led by Prof David Dockrell in Edinburgh, which seeks to establish mechanisms of bacterial clearance by innate immune cells, and to establish ways of reducing antimicrobial resistance. The consortium brings together groups in Sheffield, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Birmingham

Key collaborators include:

Professor Danny McAuley, Dr Cecilia O’Kane, Dr Ronan McMullan (Queen’s University Belfast)

Dr Andrew Conway Morris (University of Cambridge)

Professor Adriano Rossi, Professor David Dockrell, Dr Donald Davidson, Dr Nik Hirani, Professor Michael Eddleston (Edinburgh University)

Dr Alistair Roy (Integrated Critical Care Unit, Sunderland)

Professor Paul Corris, Dr Tony De Soyza, Dr Ian Forrest, Dr Sophie West, Dr Stephen Bourke, Dr Patrick Kesteven, Professor Matt Collin, Professor John Dark, Dr Simon Baudouin, Dr Stephen Wright, Professor Muzz Haniffa (Newcastle University)


Grants as Lead Applicant (current and selected previous)

Current

NIHR Newcastle In Vitro Diagnostic Co-operative

Selected Previous

Wellcome Trust/Department of Health Health Innovation Challenge Fund (HICF): Rapid detection and treatment of ventilator-associated pneumonia – towards improved antibiotic stewardship

NIHR Diagnostic Evidence Co-operative Award

Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust Award for Biomedical Sciences 2003
Acute infective lung injury: towards cell therapy with antiprotease-infected monocytes.

Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust
A randomised controlled trial of monocyte depletion in acute neutrophil-mediated lung injury.

MRC Developmental Clinical Studies (DCS): Does GM-CSF restore effective neutrophil function in critically ill patients?



Teaching

In 2009 I received an Edinburgh University Students' Association Teaching Award.







Publications