Postdoc: University of Guelph, Canada
PhD: Queen’s University, Canada
Office: Siebens Drake Research Institute, Room 215
Lab Website: https://www.heinrichslab.com
Area of Study:
Pathogenic mechanisms of Staphylococcus aureus (or MRSA)
The Heinrichs laboratory is almost exclusively focused on studying pathogenic mechanisms of community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA). We elucidate key pathways in S. aureus involved in usurping vital host nutrients such as the element iron as well as amino acids, both of which play vital roles in the host-pathogen interaction. We engineer genetic knockout strains of MRSA that are debilitated in metabolic pathways and that we predict will be essential for full virulence of the bacterium and study their physiology in the laboratory. Virulence of mutants, versus wild type S. aureus, is subsequently tested in approved infection models. The laboratory is also heavily involved in characterizing the interaction of S. aureus with host cells, including professional and non-professional phagocytes such as macrophages and epithelial and endothelial cells. This has informed us of the different physiological states of the bacteria within this intracellular niche. Underpinning the research undertaken in my laboratory is the identification of key targets in the bacteria that would be amenable to inhibition as a mechanism of action of new and innovative antibacterial drugs that are urgently needed to treat multi-drug resistant bacteria.