The department of neurology of the AMC has a rich history for research on neurological infectious diseases. In the late 80s the research interest was sparked by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. As one of the first groups in the world Jan de Gans, Peter Portegies, Germ Tiessens and Roelien Enting described the neurological complications of this disease. In the same period Jan de Gans focused his research interest on bacterial meningitis and started a double-blind randomized controlled trial to determine the effect of dexamethasone in adults with bacterial meningitis.
Thanks to the persistence of Jan de Gans 301 patients were included in this trial in a 9 year period. The trial showed that mortality of pneumococcal meningitis was decreased by half in patients treated with dexamethasone. In 2002 the trial was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Meanwhile Diederik van de Beek (cousin of Jan de Gans) joined the meningitis research group and started a national cohort study about the clinical characteristics of bacterial meningitis. This cohort study included 696 patients from 1998 to 2002 and again resulted in a publication in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2004. Since 2000 Diederik van de Beek, Martijn Weisfelt, Matthijs Brouwer and Sebastiaan Heckenberg achieved their Doctorate on the subject bacterial meningitis and the research group grew rapidly (see ‘Team’). In 2006 a new nationwide cohort study started with its focus on the genetic risk factors for susceptibility and unfavourable outcome of bacterial meningitis (the MeninGene study). Currently over 1600 patients have been included in this study . Because of the extensive database this study has resulted in it is possible to answer many clinical questions on bacterial meningitis.
All bacteria causing meningitis in the included patients are stored in the Dutch Reference Laboratory for Bacterial Meningitis, which enables us to study bacterial DNA as well. By doing this we can identify bacterial genetic factors that influence bacterial virulence and disease course.
The last few years the research interests of Neuroinfections Amsterdam were . Together with his fellow neurologists Paul Nederkoorn and Pim van Gool Diederik van de Beek started new research projects on infections and stroke (Nederkoorn) and sepsis associated delirium (van Gool).