The immune system protects the body from disease. Over the past decade, however, researchers have come to understand that the innate immune system — the part of the immune system that serves as the body’s first line of defense — is implicated in an enormous number of disease processes that affect many millions of people around the world.
Sometimes the immune system runs too hot, erroneously attacking the body. Sometimes, it runs too cold — its defenses insufficient to defend against invaders. We now know that the tipping point between running too hot or too cold often depends on the innate immune response, but we don’t know how to prevent it from going off course. The CIIID’s goal is to determine how to fine-tune the innate immune system (so that it knows exactly when to turn on and how to protect the body), and then how to turn it off before it causes any collateral damage.