"Christine T. Herman, Department of Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
When you get an infection, your body gets to work and recruits germ-killing cells (a.k.a. white blood cells, or leukocytes) to the scene to fight it off so that you survive. This process, which is part of the inflammatory response, starts when chemical signals activate blood vessels and cause them to become sticky. Upon interacting with the sticky signals, leukocytes roll along the blood vessel wall. They eventually stop, spread, migrate through the vessel wall, and continue on to the site of infection.
In my research, I use chemistry to make gradient substrates that model the blood vessel wall. I incorporate the substrates into a flow chamber, flow leukocytes over them, and observe how the cells respond to the chemical cues that are presented on the surface. The goal of my research is to better understand the complex biological process of leukocyte recruitment."