We are a basic science program at Boston Children's Hospital.
Our mission is fundamental biomedical research to:
- Improve human health
- Harness inflammation
- Strengthen immune defense
Key definitions to understand our work include:
Immunology is the study of the structure and function of the immune system, which is the body's organization of organs, tissues, cells, and cell products to protect itself from other organisms. Immunology today involves nearly every aspect of medical discovery, healthcare, and disease management.
Immune defense is the coordinated and complicated reaction of the agents of the immune system to pathogens, called antigens, which are foreign to the body and have the potential to cause disease. Normal immune surveillance also helps to keep damaged cells from proliferating into cancer. Immune defense research at the IDI is targeted at development of defenses against bioterrorism, vaccines against viral and other infections, and new means to prevent or treat types of cancer.
Inflammation is a protective gathering of immune cells and molecules at a site of infection. Normally a healthy response, inflammation can become prolonged and wreak havoc on body tissues. Heart disease, Alzheimer's, ulcers, and frailty in old age appear to be linked to a state of chronic inflammation triggered by the immune response.