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.
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.
Elie Metchnikoff discovered phagocytosis in 1883, a discovery for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1908. Today, 108 years later, we continue his work.
The Heit lab is currently looking to fill three positions, suitable for graduate students or post-doctoral fellows. Trainees in these positions will develop an in-depth knowledge of immunology, cell biology and inflammation, and will gain technical expertise in molecular and cellular biology, immune assays and advanced microscopy.
The available projects cover a broad range of immunological topics, including:
Applications should be made directly to Dr. Heit. Please note that I will not reply to applicants who have not met the following requirements:
Students/PDFs holding independent funding are preferred, but not required.
The Heit lab, as part of a study led by Dr. Jane Rylett, has just published a paper on the cellular signalling involved in the cellular processes involved in Alzhimers disease. This study utilized a novel method of measuring protein distributions in super-resolution images developed in our lab.
Winick-Ng W, Caetano FA, Winick-Ng J, Morey TM, Heit B, Rylett RJ. 82-kDa choline acetyltransferase and SATB1 localize to β-amyloid induced matrix attachment regions. Scientific Reports. 2016 Apr 7;6:23914. PubMed PMID: 27052102.
Several members of the Heit lab represented the Western University at the 2016 annual meeting of the Canadian Society for Immunology. This was an exciting opportunity to see several world-leaders in the immunology field and to present our research to the Canadian immunology community. Our work was well received, with Jack Blackburn receiving the BioLegend Poster Award for his work on CD93.