Lab of Pediatrics

A healthy start of human microbial colonization determines risk of chronic disease later in life

A unique research consortium

We bridge expertise of medical surgeons from the Departments of Pediatric Surgery (Prof. Ernst van Heurn, Dr. Joep Derikx) and Pediatric Gastroenterology (Dr. Tim de Meij) and Pediatrics (Prof. Hans van Goudoever) of the Amsterdam UMC, and fundamental researchers from the Tytgat Institute for Liver and Intestinal research in order to study early life intestinal health. This unique consortium allow us to investigate how nutrition, gut microbiome/metabolome and immune system support early life intestinal health, with a unique access to human samples, and the use of cutting-edge technologies such as fetal human intestinal organoids model and (single cell) RNA sequencing, shotgun microbiome sequencing.

Early life intestinal health and disease

The interplay between nutrition, gut microbiota and immune mediators plays an essential role in the development of gut immune homeostasis in early life. A disturbed immune function in the neonatal period is harmful for neonatal survival and enhances the risk of chronic inflammatory disease later in life. Preterm infants have an immature gut and an associated intestinal state of dysbiosis, which limits the efficacy of nutritional interventions to support early life nutrition. This can lead to sepsis and conditions such as necrotizing enterocolitis and intestinal failure, and an increased risk of chronic inflammatory diseases mediated by the gut. Here we study how nutrition and gut microbiota influence early life intestinal health and play a role in diseases such as NEC/sepsis.

Biomarkers and personalized nutrition for intestinal failure in neonates

The GROWTH consortium is an Innovative Training Network focused on European Industrial Doctorates that aims to train eight young business-oriented researchers in developing pathological insights, biomarker diagnostics and personalized nutritional interventions for intestinal failure in neonates and preterm infants. A major barrier to elucidating the critical nutritional-host-microbiome interactions and reducing neonatal mortality is the lack of expertise in this rapidly emerging area of metabolomics. In this consortium several non-academic (DESCIN, MoKi, InBiome, TNO) and academic (Imperial College London, Bonn University Medical Center, Amsterdam UMC) partners are involved in the life sciences field. The multidisciplinary approach makes use of a large-scale pre-existing clinical cohort of neonates and state of the art analytical and bioinformatics tools. This collaboration will shorten the path from basic research to clinical applications. More information can be found here (

Nutritional therapies and neonatal immune tolerance

The goal of this project is to develop specialized nutritional intervention therapy to enhance neonatal immune tolerance and infant health. Furthermore, we would like to develop a better understanding of the effect of commonly used antibiotics on premature gut health, and to define the protective mediators in breast-milk. This project received a research grant from Health Holland TKI in 2018 as a consortium between the Tytgat Institute for Liver and Intestinal Research (Amsterdam UMC) and the non-academic partners Reckitt-Benckiser and DESCIN.

Nutritional therapies and Pediatric IBD

Nutritional therapies are as effective as conventional steroid therapy to reduce symptoms Pediatric Crohn’s Disease. Recently, the Crohn’s Disease Exclusion Diet (CDED) was proven to be as effective as standard of care Exclusive Enteral Nutrition (EEN) in the induction of remission. However, specific mechanisms of remission induced by nutritional therapy are yet unknown. In this project, we bridge expertise of researchers and physicians in Gastroenterology and Pediatric Medicine. The aim of this project is to elucidate the mechanism of the EEN therapy in inducing remission of pediatric Crohn’s disease. This project is led by Dr. Johan van Limbergen, pediatric gastroenterologist at Amsterdam UMC.