Dr. Bryan Heit

Principal Investigator of the Heit lab  

Current Members of the heit lab

Angela Vrieze
Research Technician

“I completed my BMSc at Western. I keep the lab running smoothly, do experiments and play Pokemon Go. I also manage the MNI Widefield Microscopy Facility.”

Nima Taefehshokr
Postdoctoral Associate

“I obtained my PhD in 2019 in Immunology at Brunel University London where I focused on role of Egr2 in CD8 tumor infiltrating lymphocytes under melanoma condition. In 2020 I moved to Canada, to pursue a post-doctorate in Dr. Bryan Heit laboratory. In my current postdoc position, I am investigating antigen-sorting mechanisms by phagocytes in the development of CD4 T cell responses. Outside of the lab, I enjoy playing soccer, jogging, and cooking.”

 David Zheng
Medical Student

“I am a 2nd year medical student at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry working as part of the Heit Lab through the SRTP program. Working on the MOPED project, my objectives are to identify associated functional and gene expression differences in alveolar macrophages of pneumonia patients associated with lung recovery vs failed recovery post-pneumonia.”

Amena Aktar
PhD Candidate

Masters of Immunology (University of Manitoba, Canada)

Amena is currently exploring how GATA2 over-expression drives macrophage dysfunction and early plaque development during atherosclerosis.

Austin Le Lam
MSc Candidate

“I am a former honors thesis student and current master’s student studying the formation of the efferocytic synapse. A fun fact about me is I like to use back straps during experiments to improve my posture.”

Alex Lac
MSc Candidate

“I originally joined the Heit Lab as an Honours Project student during my final year of undergraduate studies, and now I am continuing my project on elucidating the role of a unique protein, Erc1, in regulating MHC class II trafficking pathways for graduate school. To do so, I use fluorescence microscopy to visualize the dynamics and localization patterns of various trafficking regulators in phagocytes.”

Minhyuk Mun
Honours Student
Minhyuk is investigating the role of GATA2 in the proliferation and sensitivity to apoptosis of atherosclerotic plaque macrophages.
Kasia Wodz
Honours Student
Kasia is developing a 3D printed high-throughput imaging analysis platform for quantifying macrophage function from minutely-sized clinical samples.
Catherine Jung
Scholars Elective Student

“I am currently investigating Rab17 effectors involved in the direction of trafficking in efferocytosis. Studying this system will help advance understanding of antigen processing and may also identify previously unknown mechanisms driving autoimmune disease.”

Maria Abou Taka
Undergraduate Researcher

“I am currently helping with the “MOPED” Project, where we are investigating how the process of alveolar macrophage efferocytosis changes in patients with bacterial pneumonia. This will help us understand why some pneumonia patients do not regain full lung recovery after disease, while others do. “

Peter Guo
Undergraduate Researcher

“I am currently helping maintain lab environment and performance, assisting in performing experiments, and is responsible for lab website maintenance. “

MSc and PHD Graduates

Tarannum Tasnim
MSc, Oct 2020

Bachelor of Medicine & Surgery (University of Dhaka, Bangladesh)

Tara explored how MERTK engages in efferocytosis cooperatively with integrins, and mediates this cross-talk through engaging canonical integrin signaling pathways, using pharmacological inhibitors and Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET).

Charles Yin
PhD, Sept 2019


Charles was a highly successful MD/PhD student in the Heit lab. During his PhD, Charles discovered the role of Rab17 in preventing antigen presentation following efferocyotsis, and was the firwst person to identify a role for GATA2 in the early pathology of atherosclerosis.

Elaine Liu
MSc, 2019

Elaine developed the foundational work for our current studies into MHC II trafficking and antigen presentation following efferocyotsis.

Adam Tepperman
MSc, 2019

Adam developed our 3D printed microchamber system and began our exploration of the pathways regulating MHC II trafficking.

Kyle Taruk
MSc, 2018

Kyle explored the signalling pathways regulating MERTK-mediated efferocyotsis.

Darius Lau
MSc, 2018

Darius discovered that CD93 functions as an apoptotic cell opsonin, via the αXβ2 integrin.

Amanda Evans
MSc, 2016

Amanda investigated the evolution of MERTK and how recently evolved features altered its binding affinity and sensitivity as a viral receptor.

Jack Blackburn
MSc, 2016

Jack determined that CD93 functioned as an apoptotic cell opsonin and begun identification of its receptor.

Masha (Maria) Goiko
MSc, 2015

Masha developed our single particle tracking infrastructure, and using this technology, identified a previously unknown microdomain (cages) in the membranes of cells. She also used this technology to improve our understanding of the physical processes  controlling protein diffusion in cellular membranes.

Jessica Ellins
MSc, 2014

Jessica began our characterisation of CD93, and investigated its potential role as a directly efferocytic receptor.

Ekene Azu
MSc, 2014

Ekene began our investigations into MERTK, and developed many of the molecular biology platforms we have used to understand this efferocytic receptor.

Yohan Kim
MSc, 2014

Yohan first identified Rab17 as a protein uniquely recruited to efferosomes, and developed many of the tools we use to explore this GTPases role in efferocytosis and phagocytosis.

Undergraduate and Other Members

Honours Students


Alex Lac
Austin Lam
Mara Rosoga


Ryan LaPenna


Sara Ndombele


Caroline Banas
Darius Lau
Janakan Somasundaram


Dean Argintaru
Elaine Liu


Melanie Sutton
Yadin Bornstein


Amanda Evans
Xinyi Gao


Jessica Ellins
Rajiv Jain


Eric Roszell
Sarah Ooi

Summer/Volunteer Students

Johnathan Hu
Neha Sharma
Amanda Evans
Jack Blackburn
Ashley Ma
Angela Kipp
Janakan Somasundaram
Megha Shetty
Xinxin Tang
Ushra Khan
Ryan Yip
Joshua Yiu
Isuri Vidyarathne
Charlie Zhao
Tiffany Mustonen


Ronald Flannagan, PhD – Research Associate