Graham A. Heieis


Research areas of interest: Tissue immunology, Immunometabolism, Parasitic infection


Leiden University Medical Center  |  Leiden University Center for Infectious Diseases

Education and Research background  

I started my education in Vancouver, Canada where I obtained my Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology. Throughout this degree, I had the opportunity to do several internships in industrial and academic laboratories where I was exposed to research in microbiology, molecular biology, cellular biology, as well as cancer immunology. During my bachelor’s, I developed a keen interest in immunology and subsequently pursued a PhD in the subject at the University of British Columbia. I was fortunate to be able to conduct the second half of my degree at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. The focus of my PhD was on understanding how immune cells (particularly T cells) respond metabolically to parasitic infections, including intestinal parasitic worms (helminths). My PhD was targeted towards basic research using experimental models to increase our understanding of immune responses to infection. Following my PhD, I wanted to transition my knowledge and expertise in fundamental research to a human/clinical setting and joined the Parasitology team at Leiden University Medical Center.

My work on immune responses to vaccines

A key aim of my work is to determine how cellular metabolism of immune cells (“immunometabolism”) is changed in response to, or predicts the outcome of, infection /vaccination. Research over the last two decades has revealed that metabolism is a central controller of immune function, and that manipulating immune cell metabolism has a severe impact on health and disease. Whether immunometabolism is different between populations in different geographic regions is not known and may have a significant impact on vaccine efficacy. Therefore, an important line of my research is determining which metabolic pathways correlate with vaccine success and how these pathways may be different across demographics. Ultimately, this will reveal whether metabolism is a viable target to increase adjuvanticity, particularly in the context of vaccine hyporesponsiveness.

beyond research

I’m an avid outdoorsman that loves to climb mountains and spend time camping in the wilderness (difficult in the Netherlands!).