Neonatal immunology, neonatal infectious disease and necrotizing enterocolitis
Jörn-Hendrik Weitkamp, M.D., is currently Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Neonatology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee.
Dr. Weitkamp received his medical degree from the University of Ulm in Germany and completed his residency in Pediatrics at the University Hospital of Bonn in Germany and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He subsequently completed fellowships and is board-certified in Pediatric Infectious Diseases and Perinatal-Neonatal Medicine.
Dr. Weitkamp’s laboratory investigates the development, phenotype, function, and metabolism of peripheral blood and intestinal mucosa T cell populations isolated from preterm infants and studies their role in important outcomes such as necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and brain injury. Specifically he investigates the effects of fetal immune activation on priming of T helper cells, FOXP3+ T regulatory cells and innate lymphoid cells. In collaboration with Dr. Sar Peters at the VKC, Dr. Weitkamp studies immune cell changes associated with Rett and MECP2 deletion syndrome.
Dr. Weitkamp’s laboratory also uses 16S rRNA technology to interrogate the fetal and neonatal microbiome and how it informs the developing immune system. Dr. Weitkamp’s training in infectious diseases, immunology and neonatal/perinatal medicine allows him to analyze the entire sequence of maternal infection/environmental exposures, its influence on the fetal microbiome and developing immune system followed by preterm birth and prematurity-associated infectious and inflammatory complications.
The focus of my research and scholarly work has been in neonatal immunology, neonatal infectious disease and necrotizing enterocolitis. I am specifically interested in the prenatal influences on the developing immune system. We use human tissue, blood and saliva samples to discover the microbial, metabolomic and immunological profiles and mechanisms of prematurity and its complications.
As the Director for Patient-Oriented Research, I oversee numerous clinical trials and translational studies in neonatology. Topics include immunological mechanisms of neurodevelopmental decline in MECP2 deletion syndrome, infectious causes of chronic lung disease, optimizing antimicrobial treatment in neonates, development of non-invasive diagnostics, aerolized surfactant, erythropoetin for brain protection and others.