Neutrophilic Chain-Reactions 03-12-2020

The “Applications of Engineering in Medicine and Biology” Seminar series


Neutrophils are the most numerous white blood cells in the circulation.  They are the earliest blood-cell-responders to microbe invasion and are critical to protecting us from infections.  Although studied for more than 100 years, neutrophils continue to surprise us with unexpected functions employed during infections, inflammations, and sepsis.  These functions are coming to light through the use of microfluidic devices, which we are designing explicitly as discovery tools.  Among the recent findings, one of the most surprising was the ability of neutrophils to engage in chain-reactions that speed up and magnify their responses against microbes.  We will discuss the processes involved in the neutrophilic chain reactions and the role of microfluidic tools in probing these.  We will discuss how neutrophilic chain reactions are critical to delivering powerful defensive punches against fungi and other microbes.  We will also discuss how we could enhance or reduce these activities to preserve health and alleviate disease. 


Daniel Irimia is a bioengineer, a medical doctor by training, and a researcher in the areas of microfluidics, inflammation, and sepsis.  He is an Associate Professor in the Surgery Department at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Shriners Burns Hospital, and Harvard Medical School.  He was recently awarded the "Pioneers of Miniaturization" prize from the Chemical and Biological Microsystems Society for his work on microfluidic tools to analyze neutrophils and other leukocytes in health and disease.

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