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Dr W.J. Wiersinga (1976) has been appointed professor of Internal Medicine, specialising in translational infectious diseases, at the University of Amsterdam’s Faculty of Medicine (AMC-UvA).

Prof Joost Wiersinga
Credits: Dirk Gillissen

In recent decades, the risk of dying from sepsis (blood poisoning) has increased worldwide, amongst others due to an ageing population and an increase in resistance to antibiotics. Some progress has been made in reducing this death rate through better diagnostics and treatment and through the implementation of guidelines for managing patients with sepsis. Through his research, Joost Wiersinga is endeavouring to reduce this death rate even further. His focus is on the pathogenesis of sepsis, the identification of subgroups and the development of new therapeutic targets. He uses various clinical and pre-clinical models to study the progression of sepsis. For example, he is researching the tropical disease melioidosis, which is a significant cause of sepsis in Southeast Asia.

The importance of microbiota

The study of microbiota is a key aspect of Wiersinga’s research. Microorganisms are present throughout our bodies. A disruption in the balance of these organisms can give rise to an infection. Microbiota are also crucial in the context of optimum use of antibiotics and the development of resistance. With the help of a grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) and a Vidi grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), Wiersinga is conducting research in this field in patients with pneumonia, sepsis and skin infections.

Lectures and training

Wiersinga teaches students of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the UvA. He gives lectures in the field of infectious diseases on both the Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes. Having obtained an MBA in Healthcare Management, in conjunction with INSEAD, he launched a mini-MBA training course that helps doctoral researchers improve their chances on the labour market.

About Wiersinga

Wiersinga is an internist specialising in infectious diseases and is head of the AMC’s Infectious Diseases department. As well as his clinical activities, he is principal investigator of the Translational Infectious Diseases research group at the AMC’s Center for Experimental Molecular Medicine (CEMM). Wiersinga is also chief researcher and coordinator of the Marie Curie Innovative Training Network ‘The European Sepsis Academy’, which is part of the EU’s Horizon2020 programme. He is also editor of the Dutch Journal of Medicine (Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde) and a member of various committees and working groups. For example, he is working on Dutch and international guidelines on the treatment of sepsis and he is coordinator of Dutch guidelines on the treatment of pneumonia.

Wiersinga will give his inaugural lecture on Friday 20 October 2017. This will be a joint lecture with Joppe Hovius, who has been appointed Professor of Internal Medicine, specialising in vector-borne infectious diseases.