Gregory D. Fairn

Gregory D. Fairn

Associate Professor

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

Address St. Michael's Hospital
209 Victoria St.
LKSKI Building, Office 614
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.

In the News

Research Lab

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 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

BCH473Y Advanced Research Project in Biochemistry
BCH446H Membrane Dynamics of the Cell Surface


View all publications on PubMed

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

Inhibition of Acid Sphingomyelinase Depletes Cellular Phosphatidylserine and Mislocalizes K-Ras from the Plasma Membrane.
Cho KJ, van der Hoeven D, Zhou Y, Maekawa M, Ma X, Chen W, Fairn GD, Hancock JF.
Mol Cell Biol. 2015 Nov 16;36(2):363-74.  Read

Phosphoinositide 3-kinase enables phagocytosis of large particles by terminating actin assembly through Rac/Cdc42 GTPase-activating proteins.
Schlam D, Bagshaw RD, Freeman SA, Collins RF, Pawson T, Fairn GD, Grinstein S.
Nat Commun. 2015 Oct 14;6:8623.  Read

Complementary probes reveal that phosphatidylserine is required for the proper transbilayer distribution of cholesterol.
Maekawa M, Fairn GD
J Cell Sci. 2015 Feb 6. pii: jcs.164715. [Epub ahead of print]  Read

Molecular probes to visualize the location, organization and dynamics of lipids.
Maekawa M, Fairn GD
J Cell Sci. 2014 Nov 15;127(22):4801-12.  Read

Diacylglycerol kinases terminate diacylglycerol signaling during the respiratory burst leading to heterogeneous phagosomal NADPH oxidase activation.
Schlam D, Bohdanowicz M, Chatgilialoglu A, Steinberg BE, Ueyama T, Du G, Grinstein S, Fairn GD.
J Biol Chem. 2013 Aug 9;288(32):23090-104.  Read

Phosphatidylserine is polarized and required for proper Cdc42 localization and for development of cell polarity.
Fairn GD, Hermansson M, Somerharju P, Grinstein S.
Nat Cell Biol. 2011 Oct 2;13(12):1424-30.  Read

High-resolution mapping reveals topologically distinct cellular pools of phosphatidylserine.
Fairn GD, Schieber NL, Ariotti N, Murphy S, Kuerschner L, Webb RI, Grinstein S, Parton RG.
J Cell Biol. 2011 Jul 25;194(2):257-75.  Read

An electrostatic switch displaces phosphatidylinositol phosphate kinases from the membrane during phagocytosis.
Fairn GD, Ogata K, Botelho RJ, Stahl PD, Anderson RA, De Camilli P, Meyer T, Wodak S, Grinstein S
J Cell Biol. 2009 Nov 30;187(5):701-14.  Read