Current Members of the heit lab
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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
“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.”
“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.”
“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
“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. “
“I am currently helping maintain lab environment and performance, assisting in performing experiments, and is responsible for lab website maintenance. “
MSc and PHD Graduates
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).
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 developed the foundational work for our current studies into MHC II trafficking and antigen presentation following efferocyotsis.
Adam developed our 3D printed microchamber system and began our exploration of the pathways regulating MHC II trafficking.
Kyle explored the signalling pathways regulating MERTK-mediated efferocyotsis.
Darius discovered that CD93 functions as an apoptotic cell opsonin, via the αXβ2 integrin.
Amanda investigated the evolution of MERTK and how recently evolved features altered its binding affinity and sensitivity as a viral receptor.
Jack determined that CD93 functioned as an apoptotic cell opsonin and begun identification of its receptor.
Masha (Maria) Goiko
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 began our characterisation of CD93, and investigated its potential role as a directly efferocytic receptor.
Ekene began our investigations into MERTK, and developed many of the molecular biology platforms we have used to understand this efferocytic receptor.
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