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.”

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.

Brandon H Dickson
MSc Candidate
Brandon is investigating how multiple efferocytic receptors coordinate their signaling and function to enable the phagocytosis of apoptotic cells.
Matthew Arbolino
MSc Candidate

Matt is investigating the link between influenza and other pneumonias and the subsequent increased risk of suffering a myocardial infarct.

Matt is co-supervised by Dr. Aleks Leligdowicz

Mark Kwok
MSc Candidate
Mark is trying to identify the intracellular pathways used to traffic newly synthesized MHC II to phagosomes.
Yasamin Minazadeh 
MSc Candidate

Yasamin is researching how macrophages polarize and develop trained immunity in response to acute respiratory distress.

Yasamin is co-supervised by Dr. Aleks Leligdowicz

Sarah Kwock
Honours Student

Sarah is investigating how intra-phagosomal signal affects antigen presentation and MHC II expression.

Madison Dusick
Honours Student

Madison seeks to understand how the cleavage-mediated inactivation of immune receptors by ADAM-family proteases is regulated.

Alice Kim
Scholars Elective

Alice is identifying the RAB-family GTPases and their regulators which allow immune cells to “choose” whether to present antigens from a phagocytosed target.

Tasnia Rahman
Scholars Elective

Tasnia is developing the next generation of tools for tracking and quantifying antigen processing and presentation.

Agata Wolochaz

Agata is developing methods to use CRISPR to modify macrophage function and activity.

Work Study Students
Oneeb Hassan and Kerolos Gayed help manage the lab and assist other members with their research.

Recent MSc, PhD, and Post-Doctoral Fellow Graduates

Jasika Bashal
MSc, February 2023

Jasika identified the inflammatory profile of macrophages in the osteoarthritic joint and identified a central cellular pathway that drove this inflammatory polarization.

Jasika was co-supervised by Dr. Tom Appleton

Nima Taefehshokr
Postdoctoral Associate, 2022

“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.”

Alex Lac
MSc, Aug 2021

“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.”

Kasia Wodz
MSc, May 2022

Kasia investigated the role of GATA2 in macrophage apoptosis during atherosclerosis.

Minhyuk (Paul) Mun
MSc, May 2022

Paul investigated the role of GATA2 in macrophage proliferation during atherosclerosis.

Austin Le Lam
MSc, August 2020

“I am a former honors thesis student and current master’s student studying the formation of the efferocytic synapse.”

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 first person to identify a role for GATA2 in the early pathology of atherosclerosis.


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).

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

  • Catherine Jung
  • Maria Abu Taka
  • Kasia Wodz
  • Minhyuk Min
  • 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
  • Peter Guo
  • David Zheng


Ronald Flannagan, PhD – Research Associate