While animal models have lead to huge advancements in our understanding of neurobiology, there is controversy over whether overexpression/silencing of gene expression is representative of diverse disease states. Indeed, the lack of availability of primary human neurons has made evaluating the pathological consequences of genomic mutations arduous. The use of human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) technology overcomes these limitations by providing a source of human neurons from both normal and disease genetic backgrounds. We currently focus on stem cell based models of Parkinson's Disease (PD) to study how mitochondrial stress mechanisms impact on neuronal function in human disease.Learn More
Research Area: Biotechnology
Morphological studies have provided an outline of biodiversity, but are incapable of surveying, managing and protecting it on a planetary scale. By exploiting two technologies that are gaining power exponentially – DNA sequencing and computational capacity – my research promises an ever-accelerating capacity to monitor and know life. In particular, I aim to automate species identification and discovery, and to employ this capacity to answer longstanding scientific questions. Automation is possible because sequence diversity in short, standardized gene regions (DNA barcodes) enables fast, cheap, and accurate species discrimination. New instruments can inexpensively gather millions of DNA sequences, enabling surveys of organismal diversity at speeds and scales that have been impossible.Learn More
We currently have several projects in various areas that explore aspects of the gut microbiome and beyond:
1) Understanding how gut microbes are involved in the modulation of disease in colorectal cancer, diabetes, infection, and inflammatory bowel diseases
2) Isolation and characterisation of hunter-gatherer people's gut microbiome in an effort to discover novel microbial species and understand their function
3) Characterisation of the non-bacterial microbes of the human microbiome and their functions
4) Building model systems to study human gut microbes in vitro and in vivo
5) The study of 'oncomicrobes' (in particular, Fusobacterium nucleatum), and the development of colorectal cancer.
6) Translation to the clinic - development of 'microbial ecosystem therapeutics'
Molecular biodiversity research and highly qualified personnel training are lab focal points. Using field and lab-based methods together with bioinformatic tools and statistical modelling approaches, we study the patterns and drivers of species habitat occupancy, community assembly and food web ecology. This information is central to addressing a variety of questions pertaining to biodiversity conservation, environmental effects monitoring and food security. We also contribute to the development of standard methods and best practices necessary to enhance receptor uptake capacity for a variety of partners including indigenous peoples, industry, governmental as well as non-governmental organizations, and other citizen science initiatives.Learn More
To better study the biology and virulence of fungal pathogens, we are developing new genomic technology platforms for diverse fungal species. We are exploiting CRISPR-Cas9 based technologies to revolutionize the way we do high-throughput functional genomic analysis in fungal pathogens. This is enabling us to map large-scale genetic interaction networks, and uncover genetic factors and pathways that mediate important phenotypes associated with pathogenesis, antifungal drug resistance, and other biological processes associated with fungal infectious diseases.Learn More
For bacteria, survival requires evading detection. Pathogens must evade their host, but all bacteria need to avoid being targeted by phages. Gram negative bacteria’s survival depends on lipopolysaccharide and capsule – highly complex carbohydrate molecules that coat their outer surface. The enzymes that produce these molecules are complex, drawing on a large set of basic modules but then tweaking and combining them into new organizations that accomplish unique ends. My lab is focused on understanding how the structures and large-scale architectures of these enzymes create the enormous variety of unique custom carbohydrates observed in nature. To this end, we use crystallography, enzymology, and a variety of biophysical assays and bioinformatics tools to better understand these proteins.Learn More
Dr. Heyland�s laboratory uses novel functional genomics approaches to study the endocrine and neuroendocrine systems of aquatic invertebrates. Specifically he investigates the function and evolution of hormonal and neurotransmitter signaling systems in the regulation of development and metamorphosis. His research includes Evolutionary development studies of marine invertebrate metamorphosis, eco-toxicogenomic approached to understand endocrine disruption in aquatic ecosystems and water remediation technologies. These projects are integrated with several national and international collaborations ranging form basic scientific work to industry partnerships.Learn More
We are interested in understanding complicated genetic networks in fungal pathogens. Focusing primarily on the common yeast pathogen Candida albicans and the emerging pathogen Candida auris, our lab is developing and optimizing novel CRISPR based functional genomic technologies and using them to modulate the fungal genome on a large scale. We are applying these technologies for large-scale functional genomic screening, in order to understand the genes and genetic interactions that underly fungal pathogenesis (including cellular morphogenesis and biofilm formation), the evolution of antifungal drug resistance.Learn More
We are interested in microbial enzymes involved in the steroid and aromatic compounds degradation. These enzymes are important for bioremediation of organic pollutants and are potential targets for development of antibiotics against tuberculosis. In collaboration with Dr. Ting Zhou at Agriculture Agri-food Canada, we are isolating and characterizing enzymes capable of detoxifying the mycotoxins, deoxynivalenol and patulin. These mycotoxins contaminate grains and fruit juices.Learn More