Inflammation & disease
Everybody knows what happens when we get hurt or infected. The injured part of our body swells. That’s our innate immune system offering a short-term fix by attempting to restore the proper physiological balance. But that quick fix may also be a root cause of many serious disorders, according to Ruslan M. Medzhitov, Ph.D., and Richard A. Flavell, Ph.D. The two immunobiologists have proposed a unifying theory to describe how inflammation can affect the body’s homeostatic control mechanisms to trigger the onset of disease. Now Medzhitov, the David W. Wallace Professor of Immunobiology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator, and Flavell, chair of the department of immunobiology, Sterling Professor of Immunobiology, and an HHMI investigator, will have a chance to test their theory of inflammation and chronic disease, thanks to a $10 million grant from the Blavatnik Family Foundation, the charitable organization headed by American industrialist and philanthropist Len Blavatnik. The grant will support the scientists’ efforts to define the molecular links among inflammation, commensal microorganisms, and chronic disease.