Inflammation plays a role in nine of the top 10 causes of death worldwide, including heart disease, cancer and stroke. The inflammatory process leads to physical changes in our body’s tissues as a result of the release of immune signals that cause heat and swelling. Little is known about how these physical changes affect immune cells, which regulate the inflammatory process.
Researchers from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry are teaming up with scientists from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University in Ithaca to study how immune cells interact and communicate within the inflamed environment. Failure to adapt to the inflamed environment and the resulting miscommunication between immune cells can lead to chronic inflammation. Understanding how immune cells sense their physical environment and identifying the molecular pathways that allow them to acclimate would help scientists develop new therapies that might mitigate chronic inflammatory and infectious diseases, such as autoimmunity, cardiovascular disease and tuberculosis.
Deborah J. Fowell, Ph.D., Dean’s associate professor in the department of Microbiology and Immunology at UR and lead investigator Cynthia Leifer, Ph.D., associate professor of Immunology at Cornell, received funding for the work from the Cornell University/University of Rochester Collaborative Trans-Institutional Pilot Award Program in Immunity and Infection. The program was created to promote new inter-institutional, multidisciplinary collaborations between researchers at Cornell and UR in the area of immunity and Infection.