Lena Heung, MD, PhD

Lena Heung, MD, PhD

Infectious Diseases

The research of Lena Heung, MD, PhD, focuses on the roles of innate immune cells in the host response to respiratory fungal pathogens, in particular Cryptococcus neoformans. C. neoformans is an environmental fungus that can cause highly fatal lung and central nervous system infections in immunocompromised patients, including those with HIV/AIDS, cancer, solid organ transplantation and autoimmune conditions. The goal of Dr. Heung's research is to define the innate immune mechanisms that determine host outcomes after infection in order to facilitate the development of immunomodulatory therapies for susceptible patients. The Heung Lab has established detrimental roles for inflammatory monocytes and signaling through the DAP12 adapter molecule during cryptococcosis. Currently, the lab is investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which inflammatory monocytes regulate the host response to C. neoformans and further dissecting the DAP12 signaling cascade and its role in integrating fungal sensing and downstream effector functions.

  • Undergraduate: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1999
  • Doctorate: Medical University of South Carolina, 2007
  • Residency: Baystate Medical Center/Tufts University School of Medicine, 2011
  • Fellowship: University of Washington, 2013
  • Fellowship: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 2016
  • K08 Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, 2017-2022
  • Fellowship Award, Stony Wold-Herbert Fund, 2015-2017
  • Clinical Scholars Biomedical Research Training Program Fellowship (funded by the Dana Foundation), Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 2015-2017

Click here for a list of peer-reviewed publications.

  • Heung LJ, Hohl TM. Inflammatory monocytes are detrimental to the host immune response during acute infection with Cryptococcus neoformans. PLoS Pathog. 2019, in press.
  • Brunel SF, Bain JM, King J, Heung LJ, Kasahara S, Hohl TM, Warris, A. Live imaging of antifungal activity by human primary neutrophils, monocytes and macrophages in response to A. fumigatus. J Vis Exp. 2017;122:e55444.
  • Heung LJ. Innate immune responses to Cryptococcus. J Fungi. 2017;3(3):35.
  • Heung LJ, Hohl TM. DAP12 inhibits pulmonary immune responses to Cryptococcus neoformans. Infect Immun. 2016;84:1879-1886.
  • Heung LJ, Jhingran A, Hohl TM. Deploying FLAREs to visualize functional outcomes of host – pathogen encounters. PLoS Pathog. 2015;11(7):e1004912.
  • Jhingran A, Kasahara S, Shepardson KM, Fallert Junecko BA, Heung LJ, Kumasaka DK, Knoblaugh SE, Lin X, Kazmiercziak BI, Reinhart TA, Cramer RA, Hohl TM. Compartment-specific and sequential role of MyD88 and CARD9 in chemokine induction and innate defense during respiratory fungal infection. PLoS Pathog. 2015;11(1):e1004589.

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