Dr. Swirski's lab seeks to elucidate how leukocytes shape and are shaped by inflammation. His lab works with models of acute and chronic inflammation relevant to infectious, cardiovascular, and metabolic diseases, and focus on cell development, communication and function.

What Your Cells Need to Keep You Healthy

Filip Swirski, PhD
Filip Swirski, PhD
Patricia and Scott Eston MGH Research Scholar 2016-2021
Primary Investigator, Center for Systems Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital
Associate Professor of Radiology, Harvard Medical School

The human body has its own waste disposal trucks, so to speak: cells called macrophages.

These cells, whose name literally means “big eaters,” live in every organ — heart, lung, liver, brain — where they eat and eliminate damaged and potentially dangerous material. Yet macrophages do far more than collect garbage.

Among other things, they support brain function, regulate body temperature and recycle iron. They also respond quickly when things go wrong.

Macrophages accumulate in large numbers in atherosclerotic lesions that cause heart attacks and strokes, in tumors, in arthritic joints, and in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.

Are macrophages defending against disease or unwittingly contributing to it?

In the Swirski lab, researchers seek to uncover macrophages’ hidden secrets. If researchers can understand the body’s microscopic details — the complexities of its sanitation networks — they will be better at discovering how and why it fails.