Cellular Biophysics of Innate Immunity

Imagine that you cut yourself and pathogens breach your skin barrier. This would trigger innate immune cells to rapidly move through-, deform in- and interact with cells in tissues to reach the pathogens and deploy various cell-scale mechanisms to neutralize them. Each step of this process requires immune cells to sense and respond to physical forces. Our lab aims to understand how innate immune cells detect, generate and transmit the cell-scale physical forces required for the well execution of their functions both in health and disease.

We address this question by taking a multidisciplinary approach based on quantitative cell biology, biophysics, immunology and modeling. We use high resolution microscopy to visualize the dynamic immune cell processes; experimental biophysics and genetics to measure, manipulate and reconstitute innate immune cells functions and modeling to work toward predicting innate immunity. Surrounded by biochemists and bioengineers, our long-term vision is to re-engineer innate immune cells to enhance their host-defense roles while dampening their sometimes-detrimental effects on the host.