How does the immune system maintain tissue integrity and function while clearing pathogens?
The air we breathe is teeming with microbes and our skin and mucosal surfaces are home to trillions of bacteria. Our immune system must sift through this onslaught and respond to true threats in a manner that is tailored to the specific pathogen type and magnitude of infection. A weak or delayed response means the spread of infection, but over-reaction can lead to immune-driven tissue destruction and inflammatory disease. Shockingly, the immune system rarely fails.
We are obsessed with understanding this fine balance and do so by exploring feedbacks between host and pathogen at the molecular, cellular, and whole organ scales. We believe quantitative questions call for quantitative solutions, so we blend methods and concepts from classical immunology and host-pathogen interactions, with biophysics, systems biology, and machine learning. We like to follow questions across multiple scales, often starting at the single cell level and ending at whole tissues, which we visualize using a variety of different microscopy techniques.
We believe that the primary goal of conducting excellent research relies on training excellent scientists. The need for cross-disciplinary scientists with a deep understanding of infectious disease and advanced computational skills has never been more evident. We aim to create a diverse and inclusive space where trainees pioneer their own projects, have the freedom to explore ideas, and learn perseverance, accountability, teamwork, and professionalism.
About Jen: Jen received her BS in Biology from Saint Joseph’s University. Afterwards, she spent several years as a research technician at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman school of Medicine before earning her PhD from the graduate program in Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis at Weill Cornell. Jen completed her postdoctoral work at UCLA and joined the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School in 2021.
About Alon: Alon earned his degrees (B.Sc., M.Sc., and Ph.D.) in Physics from Ben Gurion University of the Negev. His doctoral work was conducted in the labs of Oleg Krichevsky at BGU and Gregoire Altan-Bonnet at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center focusing on biological and soft matter physics, optics, and immunology. He conducted his postdoctoral work at UCLA working with Roy Wollman before joining the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School in 2021.