Greg Fairn

Greg Fairn

Associate Professor

BSc, Dalhousie University, 2001
PhD, Dalhousie University, 2007
Postdoc, Hospital for Sick Children, 2007-2012

Address St. Michael's Hospital, Unity Health Toronto
Office 614, 6th Floor
209 Victoria St.
Toronto, ON M5B1W8
Lab Phone 416-864-6060, ext 77361
Office Phone 416-864-6060, ext 77330

For as long as I can remember I have been interested in science. Now as a cell biologist I consider myself a bit of a “Jack-of-all-trades” having worked in a variety of fields. I completed my B.Sc. in the Departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Microbiology and Immunology with Co-op placements along the way at Novartis and Merck. I then continued my training  at Dalhousie University in Halifax in the lab of Dr. Chris McMaster studying yeast genetics, vesicular transport and lipid metabolism. Next, I moved to Toronto for postdoctoral studies in the lab of Dr. Sergio Grinstein, in the Program in Cell Biology at the Hospital for Sick Children. Here, I continued studying vesicular transport and organelle function and further extended my research into innate immunity and host-pathogen interactions. In the summer of 2012, I started my own lab at St. Michael’s Hospital and continue to study a variety of aspects related to vesicular and non-vesicular transport of lipids, membrane dynamics, innate immunity and the cell biology of yeast and fungal pathogens.

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Research Description

Cell biology of lipids, membrane biology, and organelle function

Biological membranes are complex assemblies of lipids and proteins, which define organelles and allow cells to interact with neighbouring cells, pathogens and their environment. We are particularly interested in the lipids that comprise these membranes, the proteins that regulate lipid homeostasis, and the function of receptors that reside within the plasma membrane. Alterations in this homeostasis are associated with a variety of diseases including atherosclerosis, obesity, cancer, neurodegeneration and are the underlying cause of several inherited genetic disorders.

My lab has two primary research areas: 1) lipid-signaling and membrane dynamics in vesicular trafficking and receptor signaling; 2) phagocytosis, efferocytosis and host-fungal interactions

Current and Future Research

My lab makes use of a variety of microscopic techniques and mass-spectrometry based lipidomics together with more traditional biochemical and molecular approaches to study membrane biology. Using these approaches we are currently studying a) caveolae-mediated endocytosis, b) the formation and function of membrane nanodomains (“rafts”), c) the removal and destruction of fungal pathogens by immune cells, d) the role of flippases in mammalian cells and e) the role of lipid-signaling in budding yeast and fungal pathogens.

Awards & Distinctions

2017 — The Walter A. Shaw Young Investigator Award in Lipid Research from the ASBMB
2013-2018 — Ontario Early Researcher Award
2013-2018 — Canadian Institute for Health Research New Investigator Award
2007-2010 — Canadian Institute for Health Research Postdoctoral Fellowship

Courses Taught

BCH 2024H Molecular and Cellular Biology of Lipids
BCH374Y Research Project in Biochemistry
BCH473Y Advanced Research Project in Biochemistry
BCH446H Membrane Dynamics of the Cell Surface


View all publications on PubMed

Palmitoylation of NOD1 and NOD2 is required for bacterial sensing.
Lu Y, Zheng Y, Coyaud É, Zhang C, Selvabaskaran A, Yu Y, Xu Z, Weng X, Chen JS, Meng Y, Warner N, Cheng X, Liu Y, Yao B, Hu H, Xia Z, Muise AM, Klip A, Brumell JH, Girardin SE, Ying S, Fairn GD*, Raught B*, Sun Q*, Neculai D*.
Science. 2019 Oct 25;366(6464):460-467.  Read

Phagolysosome resolution requires contacts with the endoplasmic reticulum and phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate signalling.
Levin-Konigsberg R, Montaño-Rendón F, Keren-Kaplan T, Li R, Ego B, Mylvaganam S, DiCiccio JE, Trimble WS, Bassik MC, Bonifacino JS, Fairn GD*, Grinstein S*.
Nat Cell Biol. 21, pages1234–1247(2019)  Read

Integrity under stress: Host membrane remodelling and damage by fungal pathogens.
Westman J, Hube B, Fairn GD.
Cell Microbiol. 2019 Apr;21(4):e13016. doi: 10.1111/cmi.13016.  Read

7-Ketocholesterol impairs phagocytosis and efferocytosis via dysregulation of phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate.
Lu SM and Fairn GD
Traffic. 2018 Aug;19(8):591-604. doi: 10.1111/tra.12576.  Read

PI(4,5)P2 controls plasma membrane PI4P and PS levels via ORP5/8 recruitment to ER-PM contact sites.
Sohn M, Korzeniowski M, Zewe JP, Wills RC, Hammond GRV, Humpolickova J, Vrzal L, Chalupska D, Veverka V, Fairn GD, Boura E, Balla T.
J Cell Biol. 2018 May 7;217(5):1797-1813. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201710095.  Read

PPAR-delta modulates membrane cholesterol and cytokine signaling in malignant B cells.
Sun L, Shi Y, Wang G, Wang X, Zeng S, Dunn SE, Fairn GD, Spaner DE
Leukemia. 2018 Jan;32(1):184-193. doi: 10.1038/leu.2017.162.  Read

Gliotoxin Suppresses Macrophage Immune Function by Subverting Phosphatidylinositol 3,4,5-Trisphosphate Homeostasis.
Schlam D, Canton J, Carreño M, Kopinski H, Freeman SA, Grinstein S, Fairn GD.
MBio 2016 Apr 5;7(2). pii: e02242-15.  Read