Ellen Foxman

Assistant Professor, Laboratory Medicine and Immunobiology

B.S., Yale University

Ph.D., Stanford University School of Medicine

M.D., Stanford University School of Medicine

Our first line of defense against harmful infections is known as innate immunity—an inborn system of protective mechanisms that guards against harmful viruses or bacteria, even when the body has never encountered the infection before. Many individuals infected with dangerous viruses such as influenza or coronavirus can recover quickly with only mild symptoms, even without immunity from prior exposure or vaccination, because of these defenses. The Foxman lab studies the biology of innate immune responses in tissues that are not traditionally considered part of the immune system, such as the cells that form the lining of the nasal passages and lung airways. Understanding how innate immunity is regulated in these tissues could help answer unsolved questions in infectious diseases—why the same viral infection can be asymptomatic in one person, but lead to a serious illness in another; or, on a larger scale, why certain viruses spread through families or communities at certain times but not others.