Phagocyte Biology Laboratory

Dr. Bryan Heit, Western University

We are thrilled to announce that our grant on the function of GATA2 and MERTK in early atheroscerlosis has been funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. This 3-year project will continue our earlier work into how the macrophage receptor MERTK, and the transcription factor GATA2, work to enable the onset of atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of heart disease, and is responsible for nearly a third of deaths world-wide. In atherosclerosis, a combination of cholesterol, fats and dead cells accumulate into masses (called plaques) beneath major blood vessels. These plaques are delicate and can easily rupture, forming a blood clot. If the resulting clot blocks circulation in the heart or brain, the patient will suffer a heart attack or stroke.

By understanding the earliest events that occur in disease – events which appear to involve MERTK and GATA2 – we may be able to prevent or reverse the formation of plaques, thereby protecting people from the potentially serious outcomes of a ruptured plaque.