Daniel Irimia, PH.D., M.D.
|Title||Assistant Professor of Surgery|
|Institution||Massachusetts General Hospital|
|Address||Massachusetts General Hospital|
Surgery/BioMEMS Resource Center, Rm #1404
114 16th Street
Charlestown MA 02129
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I am a bioengineer trained as a physician and I am passionate about understanding the clinical consequences of neutrophil activities during disease. My research focuses on designing sophisticated tools to measure relevant neutrophil behaviors, with the highest precision, directly from whole blood. Driven by emerging evidence, which suggests that neutrophils not only protect us against microbes, but in many instances their behavior changes and becomes detrimental, I put these tools to use in the context of inflammation, infections, and sepsis.
Several years ago, I found that neutrophils from healthy individuals can be very smart about the direction in which they move. For example, more than 90% of the human neutrophils are able to pick up the shorter route through mazes towards a chemical stimuli. Recently, I found that this ability to orient is lost in neutrophils from patients with severe burn injuries. I also found that often, neutrophils from patients can move spontaneously though micron-sized channels, in the absence of directional signals. This neutrophil phenotype, never observed for healthy neutrophils, can predict, two days in advance, the occurrence of sepsis in patients after major burns.
While a direct link between the defective neutrophil motility and sepsis remains to be demonstrated, I found that correcting neutrophil motility in animal models of burn injury could protect the animals from sepsis complications. Overall, these observations raise the possibility that neutrophils could be more important in monitoring and preventing sepsis than currently appreciated. New tools and better understanding of neutrophil biology will be required to answer these questions.
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