Dr. Chris Stewart Wins Prestigious Fleming Prize

Congratulations Dr. Stewart!


Dr Stewart works regularly with the Neonatal Unit and Tiny Lives is proud to have matched-funded Chris’ PHD from 2010 – 2013 with Northumbria University. We would like to congratulate him on winning the prestigious Fleming Prize!

Dr. Stewart is one of the top researchers at Newcastle University and has won one of the most prestigious awards in biology for his work examining how to protect premature babies from lethal diseases with a focus on how bacteria in babies’ guts helps keep them safe. Dr. Stewart and his team’s research involved growing ‘organoids’ in the lab (which are essentially lab-grown parts of human tissue) and allow scientists to test how the tissue reacts to certain situations.

‘We can add bacteria to the organoids to see how they would react in a baby’s gut. It’s been a real game changer’ Dr. Stewart said.

In a world-first, ‘the organoids are derived from preterm intestinal cells and allow us to generate ‘3D mini guts’ in the lab’.

Research has been surrounding Breast Milk containing chemicals that encourage healthy bacteria growth in babies and how this bacteria can help protect premature babies from serious illnesses.

Speaking to The Chronicle on receiving the Fleming Award, Dr. Stewart said the award is ‘recognition of achievements which help patients.’ and ‘What we do really goes to inform clinical decisions and clinical care in the hospital.’

He continued ‘We now regularly provide our pre-term infants with viable Bifidobacterium in the hope that it’s going to reduce the risk to them from things like sepsis, which can be particularly prevalent in preterm infants between 22 and 23 weeks.’

Dr Stewart said he had ‘very much focused his career’ on looking at the NEC Disease (Necrotising Enterocolitis) which sees part of a baby’s intestine die and affects premature babies disproportionately. His previous studies proved that breast milk is a ‘primary factor’ affecting the amount of Bifidobacterium in a premature baby’s guy and that babies who develop NEC or sepsis ‘have lower amounts’ of this than those who don’t.

Tiny Lives have also seed-funded the establishment of the Great North Neo-Natal Biobank (GNBB) which has aided Dr. Stewart with his work.