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Hawa Racine Thiam is an Assistant Professor of Bioengineering and Sarafan ChEM-H Institute Scholar at Stanford. Her lab combines microscopy, microfabrication, quantitative Cell Biology and Immunology to investigate the cellular biophysical mechanisms of innate immune cells functions with a particular focus on NETosis; an intriguing cell-scale process during which neutrophils respond to danger signals (e.g., pathogens) by releasing their chromatin to the extracellular environment where it can trap and neutralize pathogens but also worsen inflammation. Hawa Racine’s long-term goal is to combine what we learn studying the cellular biophysics of immune cells, together with engineering principles to manipulate, predict and re-design innate immune cells and improve human health. Hawa Racine earned her high school diploma in Senegal, her B.S in Physics and M.S in Physics for Biological systems from Paris Diderot University, then her Ph. D in Biophysics working with Dr. Matthieu Piel at Institut Curie where she developed microfabricated devices and discovered a novel function of branched actin networks in squeezing the nucleus during immune cell migration under confinement. She then joined Dr. Clare Waterman’s lab at the NIH where she combined high-resolution microscopy and other quantitative cell biology approaches to reveal the cellular mechanism of NETosis, opening new avenues for understanding this extreme cell behavior.
Cellular Biophysical Mechanisms of Innate Immune Cells Functions