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PLOS Science Wednesday: Hi reddit, my name is Daniel and I organized the Dicty World Race, which compared the motility and chemotaxis in engineered cell lines, as described in our PLOS ONE study – Ask Me Anything!
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Hi reddit, my name is Daniel Irimia and I am an Associate Professor in the Surgery Department at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and a Senior Investigator at Shriners Burns Hospital in Boston. My research focuses on designing novel technologies for measuring the activities of white blood cells from patients, towards better ways to predict, diagnose, monitor, and treat inflammation, infections, and sepsis. In 2016, I received the “Pioneers of Miniaturization” prize from the Chemical and Biological Microsystems Society, for pioneering work on microfluidic technologies for measuring human neutrophil activities and applications to human diseases. I am the organizer of the recent Dicty World Race, an unorthodox approach aimed at encouraging biologists to employ emerging microfluidic technologies to make high precision measurements of cell migration for biological and medical research applications. The results and learning from this experiment were recently published as an article titled “A Worldwide Competition to Compare the Speed and Chemotactic Accuracy of Neutrophil-Like Cells” in PLOS ONE. The race enabled a large-scale comparison of motility and chemotaxis in the engineered cell lines, allowing exploration of a diverse set of strategies for enhancing chemotactic performance. We found that there are tradeoffs between cell speed and chemotactic accuracy in maze-like environments and that the winning cells were not the fastest cell type, but excelled in finding the shortest paths through the maze. These findings could eventually help us develop better therapies against infections and chronic inflammation. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @D__Irimia. I will be answering your questions at 1pm ET – Ask Me Anything!