#Harvard Medical School

Neutrophil Extracellular Traps (NETS)

Neutrophils are immune cells that are a subset of the innate immune system and the main cells that I focus on. Evolution has gifted them a variety of ways in which to neutralize foreign bodies, from bombardment with damaging reactive oxygen species to microbicidal proteins. Personally, one of the most interesting facets of neutrophil killing activity are NETS. These are (literal) nets cast out by neutrophils upon sensing foreign bodies, comprised largely of DNA and concentrated with proteins. The NETS function by catching bacteria and trapping them in the nucleic acid fibers where they are then subjected to several microbicidal proteins, almost like a spider web. Besides providing additional antimicrobial activity outside of phagocytosis, NETS function to prevent further spread of pathogens, and may even serve to prevent host damage by keeping harsh enzymes close to the cell and not diffusing into host tissue.

Evasion of Neutrophil Killing by Staphylococcus aureus

A lot of my research is focused on immunology and the ways that our immune system acts and eliminates threats under certain experimental conditions. It's always necessary to realize however that pathogens have evolved highly complex ways to counter our immune system, and can inhibit everything from neutrophil recognition and phagocytosis to killing. There's always another side to the story.


Carbon Monoxide as a Therapeutic