Phagocyte Biology Laboratory

Dr. Bryan Heit, Western University

About Us

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.

Lab News

Listen to our Departmental Chair on CBC’s Quirks & Quarks

Our departmental chair, Dr. Eric Arts, was recently featured on the 40th anniversary episode of CBC radio show/podcast Quirks & Quarks. In this podcast he discusses the history of HIV research and where it is going in the future! Click the image for the audio.

New Cellular Microbiology Paper

The Heit lab, along with our collaborator, the Heinrichs lab, have published our first collaborative paper on the intracellular survival of the pathogen Staphylococcus aureus in macrophages. The pre-print is now available on Pubmed and from Cellular Microbiology.
Flannagan RS1, Heit B*, Heinrichs DE*. Intracellular replication of Staphylococcus aureus in mature phagolysosomes in macrophages precedes host cell death, and bacterial escape and disseminationCell Microbiol. 2015 Sep 26. doi: 10.1111/cmi.12527.

*Co-corrisponding authors

More papers!

CR20152015 has been a good year for the Heit lab, with five papers accepted for publication since January, with several other papers making their way through the review system. Our fifth paper of the year, a collaborative study with the Lee lab of St. Michaels Hospital in Toronto, has just been released in Cardiovascular Research. In this study we investigate the role of a process termed ‘transcytosis’ in the transport of LDL (bad cholesterol) out of blood vesicles. This is a poorly understood, but key step, in the development of cardiovascular disease, as LDL deposition beneath blood vessel walls drives this disease.

Congratulations Masha!


Masha drinks from the cup of knowledge.

On August 21st, 2015 Masha (Maria) Goiko successfully passed her MSC thesis exam. Masha has been a long-serving member of the Heit and deBruyn labs, and performed leading-edge research into super-resolution microscopy, protein diffusion and cellular force generation. Masha’s work has led to one submitted paper, and at least two additional papers are currently in-preparation. Masha will be continuing to work as a technician in the Heit lab.

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Upcoming Events

July 11-15, 2015
American Society for Virology Annual Conference Hosted here at the University of Western Ontario by our home department, the Department of Microbiology & Imunology

September 10, 2015
Fall Semester Begins! Undergraduate and graduate courses start on September 10

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