Dr. Heffernan's Lab

As a trauma critical care surgeon, Dr. Heffernan's focus is on the immune and inflammatory dysfunction of sepsis and critical illness. This involves translating bench findings into bedside observations in ICU patients.

Dr. Heffernan's research centers on
(1) How invariant natural killer T-cells (iNKT-cells) participate in and influence other elements of the coordinated immune response to sepsis. To do this, his lab utilizes murine models of sepsis and shock, along with observational clinical studies, to evaluate how these induce changes in iNKT-cell structure and function, and how such changes alter other immune cells.
(2) How aging effects the traumatized/septic patient and/or animal (using cogent animal models) contributing to the rise in morbid events encountered in this patient population   Dr. Heffernan believes that such knowledge will be critical not only to understanding the complex regulation of the immune system in response to injury and/or infection, but also in identifying potential therapeutic targets with which to better treat these patients.