Phagocyte biology laboratory

Welcome! You have reached the homepage for the laboratory of Dr. Bryan Heit. Our lab is part of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Western University, and we are members of the Center for Human Immunology, the lead centre for the CIHR Human Immunology Network.

Our interests surround the function of phagocytes – white blood cells which ingest (phagocytose) pathogens, particles, and dead cells. We focus on the cellular and molecular processes which control the function of these cells during the maintenance of homeostasis, infection and chronic inflammatory disease. Central to most of our studies is the study of efferoctyosis – the phagocytic removal of apoptotic (dying) cells, and how failures in this process lead to inflammation, autoimmunity and infection.

What is a Phagocyte?

Phagocytes are a class of white blood cells which have the capacity to engulf large particles such as bacterial and fungal pathogens, and subsequently destroy the engulfed material. The term phagocyte literally translates to “cell that eats”, which is an apt description of the primary function of these cells in our bodies. While there are many types of phagocytes, the Heit lab focuses primarily on macrophages, which play key roles in both maintaining our bodies and in fighting infections.

Our Methods

We use a combination of advanced microscopy techniques, gene expression analysis and functional assays to investigate the activity of macrophages. Some examples of the methods we employ can be found on our YouTube channel.

3D Printing Paper Published!
April 29 / 2020

A PDMS Imaging Chamber Cast Using a 3D Printed Mould.

The Heit lab is excited to announce that our newest paper has been accepted for publication in Biochemistry and Cell Biology. This paper presents a method for using fused deposition modelling (3D printing) to produce customized chambers for microscopy-based experiments. This technology allows for scientists to design an imaging chamber that exactly meets the requirements of their experiment while also producing a system optimized for high resolution microscopy.

We have been using this technology extensively in my lab, and have saved literally thousands of dollars in commercial chambers, reduced cell isolation/transfection costs, and reduced reagent usage.

For those without access to Biochemistry and Cell Biology, we have posted the revised version of this paper as a preprint, available over at Biorxiv.

Heit Lab and COVID-19
March 19 / 2020

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Heit lab will be closing effective Friday March 20th 2020 at noon. The IDT biobar will not be active during this time, so if you order IDT products via our biobar, please order via another route.

If you need to Contact Dr. Heit, please do so by email. We do not know at this time when normal lab operations will be restored. The MNI Widefield Microscopy Facility remains operational for as long as Western University permits research to continue. However, we cannot offer maintenance, repair or training during this time.

DNA/RNA Portal (May 29 / 2019)

The Heit lab is now the official UWO portal for IDT orders. What this means is that UWO researchers can now order all IDT products via a new portal ( and receive free shipping and preferred pricing on these products. All products will be delivered to the Heit lab, and you will receive an email once your items arrive. All items can then be picked up from the dropbox outside of Health Sciences Addition room H316. This is a great way to save on all of your DNA and RNA needs.

If you are an existing IDT customer you will need to setup a new account, using the “Set Up New Account” link at the UWO Portal.