About Dr. Ellett


Brief Biography

Felix Ellett, PhD, received his BSc (Hons) and PhD in molecular genetics and innate immunity from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Biology at the University of Melbourne, where he developed new models for studying host-pathogen interactions. He then worked as a postdoctoral fellow at The Bateson Center at the University of Sheffield, supported by an Overseas Biomedical Fellowship from the Australian NHMRC, studying neutrophil behavior in the context of inflammation and infection.

Dr. Ellett joined the Center as a postdoctoral fellow in 2015 under the mentorship of Assoc Prof. Daniel Irimia, funded by a Research Fellowship Shriner Hospital for Children in 2016 and a Tosteson Fellowship in 2018, and was promoted to Instructor in Surgery at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in 2020.

Dr. Ellett’s research is focused on model host-pathogen interactions, with emphasis on translation of findings between in vitro, in vivo and ex vivo clinical models. He has authored more than 40 publications in this field that have been cited more than 2,500 times and is actively engaged in various editorial roles spanning more than 20 peer-reviewed journals.

Research Summary

The central theme of Dr. Ellett’s research is the study of host immune cell behavior in response to infection.

The innate immune system plays a key role in protection against infection once physical barriers are breached. The cellular “first responders” of this system, neutrophils, are capable of deploying an arsenal of antimicrobial weapons to sterilize the tissue so that wound healing can proceed. While neutrophil responses are incredibly important to avoiding infection, under some conditions they may become dysregulated and contribute directly to the pathology of the disease.

Current projects include designing new microfluidic assays to measure the influence of external microenvironments and activation status on neutrophil decision-making during chemotaxis and adapting zebrafish infection models to measure neutrophil-mediated dissemination of infection following phagocytosis. These approaches are being applied to dissection of molecular pathways driving neutrophil behavior during infection and will inform and facilitate measure dysregulation of neutrophil function in relevant patient cohorts.

 Key patient populations of interest include: those at increased risk of opportunistic infection, such as burn patients and those on immunosuppressants; patients with infections, such as those suffering from sepsis, Lyme Disease, periodontal disease, and candidemia; and patients suspected of exhibiting altered innate immune function, including those with COVID-19-related sequela such as PASC and MIS-C in children, or individuals suffering from ME/CFS.

The central goal of Dr. Ellett’s research program is to better understand the contribution of innate immune cell dysregulation to disease pathology, and to identify key pathways that could be targeted to improve patient outcomes.


  • BSc (Honors), Genetics, University of Melbourne, 2006
  • PhD, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Biology, University of Melbourne, 2011
  • Postdoc, Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, Monash University, 2013 
  • Postdoc, The Bateson Center, University of Sheffield, 2015
  • Postdoc, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, 2020.

Research Thrusts