Faculty & Staff at TUC

susan heimer

Susan R Heimer

College: COP

Department: Biological & Pharmaceutical Sciences

Title: Associate Professor

Phone: (707) 638-5929

E-Mail: susan.heimer@tu.edu

Office: Administration & Faculty 2, Rm. 205

My general research interest relates to chronic conditions that enhance susceptibility to opportunistic infections.

Institution Degree Field of Study Yr
Harvard University Medical School -SERI Fellow Ophthalmology  2008
University of Maryland, Baltimore  PhD Biochemistry and Molecular Biology  2002
University of Minnesota  BS Biological Chemistry  1991

Fall Semester
PHRM 601: Biological Sciences (Participating Faculty Member)

PHRM 602: Pharmaceutical Sciences (Participating Faculty Member)

PHRM 609: Biological Sciences (Participating Faculty Member)


Spring Semester
PHRM 605: Biological Sciences (Course Coordinator)

PHRM 613: Biological Sciences (Participating Faculty Member)

HS609P:  Research Seminar Journal Club (Course Coordinator)

My research is aimed at understanding how Dry Eye (DE or Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca) influences susceptibility to bacterial infections. More than 10 million Americans are purported to suffer from DE including 3.2 million post-menopausal females and 1.6 million males > 50y of age. This agrees with what we know intuitively – aging affects ocular health. It is also a common complaint in contact lens wearers [20-30% of wearers] and following ocular surgeries - including outpatient procedures like laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) (20-40% of patients) and lens replacements for cataracts sufferers. DE can also evolve from other co-morbidities. For example, DE can be a sequela of diabetes, various autoimmune diseases (e.g. Sjogren’s syndrome, lupus erythematous, and rheumatoid arthritis) and inflammatory ocular surface diseases (e.g. blepharitis, ocular rosacea, and allergies).  It is also a side effect of several medications use to manage chronic conditions (e.g. diuretics, anti-depressants, and anti-androgens).  Modest levels of DE can be induced by increasing evaporation rates through prolonged exposure to low humidity, drafts, lower blink rates (e.g. computer use), and poor lid closure. Globally, DE is recognized as consequence of malnutrition, namely vitamin A deficiencies, estimated to affect > 6 million pre-school aged children per year worldwide. DE affects countless individuals, healthy or otherwise, with varying degrees of severity and duration. Equally important, microbial keratitis shares several of these predisposing risk factors, namely, contact lens wear, ocular trauma, and the presence of an ocular surface disease.

Using an established model of DE, I’m addressing how low tear volumes and subtle changes in the corneal epithelium correlate with bacterial colonization. The model pathogen for these studies is Pseudomonas aeruginosa which has a well-established role in contact lens-related infections and is notorious for multiple antibiotic resistances. This work is being conducted in collaboration with Dr. David Evans and Dr. Suzanne Fleiszig at the University of California, Berkeley, in the School of Optometry. My long term goal is to identify key changes that occur on mucosal surfaces or in mucosal secretions that precede colonization with certain types of opportunistic pathogens. In the future, this may serve to guide the development of both diagnostic and therapeutic strategies, aimed at bolstering host immunity.  Futhermore, it may aid physicians and pharmacists in evaluating new strategies to manage co-morbidities or treatments, which are associated with DE risks, reducing the risk of visual impairment. 

Publications

S.R. Heimer, D.J. Evans, J.J.Mun, M.E. Stern, and S.M. Fleiszig. Surfactant protein D contributes to ocular defense against Pseudomonas aeruginosa in a murine model of dry eye disease. 2013. PLoS One. 8(6):e65797.

S.R. Heimer, D.J. Evans, M.E. Stern, J.T. Barbieri, T. Yahr,and S.M. Fleiszig. Pseudomonas aeruginosa utilizes the Type III secreted toxin ExoS to avoid acidified compartments within epithelial cells. 2013. PLoS One. 8(9): e73111.

S.R. Heimer, M.S. Gilmore, D. Morrison. Enterococci. 2013. In Sussman (Ed), Molecular Medical Microbiology 2nd ed. Elsevier Inc. Philadelphia, PA.

D.K. Augustin, S.R. Heimer, C. Tam, W.Y. Li, J. LeDue, D.J. Evans, S.M.J. Fleiszig. The role of defensins in corneal epithelial barrier function against P. aeruginosa traversal.  2011. Infect Immun. 79(2):595-605.

J. Klocke, R. Barcia, S. Heimer, E. Cario, J. Zieske, M.S. Gilmore, M.S. Gregory, and B.R. Ksander.  Spontaneous bacterial corneal keratitis in CD36 knockout mice.  2011. IOVS. 52(1):256-63

S.R. Heimer, A. Yamada, H, Russell, and M.S. Gilmore. 2010. The response of corneal epithelial cells to Staphylococcus aureus. Virulence. 1 (4).

M.S. Gilmore, S.R. Heimer, and A. Yamada. Infectious Keratitis. 2010. In Levins and Alberts (eds), Ocular Disease: Mechanisms and Management. 1st ed. Elsevier Inc, Philadelphia, PA.

Rucciuto, J., S.R. Heimer, M.S. Gilmore, P. Argueso. 2008. Cell surface O-glycans limit Staphylococcus aureus adherence to corneal epithelial cells. Infect. Immun. 76:5215-5220.

E. Whiston, N. Sugi, M. Kamradt, C. Sack, S.R. Heimer, M. Engelbert, E.F. Wawrousek, M.S. Gilmore, B.R. Ksander, and M.S. Gregory. 2008. AlphaB-crystallin protects retinal tissue during Staphylococcus aureus induced endophthalmitis. Infect. Immun. 76:1781-90.

T.D. Blalock, S.J. Spurr-Michaud, A.S. Tisdale, S.R. Heimer, M.S. Gilmore, V. Ramesh and I.K. Gipson. 2007. Functions of MUC16 in corneal epithelial cells. IVOS. 48:4509-4518.

S.R. Heimer, D.A. Rasko, C.V. Lockatell, D.E. Johnson, and H.L.T. Mobley. 2004. Autotransporter Genes pic and tsh are associated with Escherichia coli strains that cause acute pyelonephritis and are expressed during urinary tract infection. Infect. Immun. 72:593-597.

S.R. Heimer, R.A. Welch, N.T. Perna, G. Pòsfai, P.S. Evans, J.B. Kaper, F.R. Blattner, and H.L.T. Mobley. 2002. Urease of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli: Evidence for regulation by Fur and a trans-acting factor. Infect. Immun. 70:1027-1031.

S.R. Heimer and H.L.T. Mobley. 2001. Interaction of Proteus mirabilis urease apoenzyme and accessory proteins identified with yeast two-hybrid technology. J. Bact. 183:1423-1433.

S.R. Heimer and H.L.T. Mobley. 1998. Proteus, Infection and Immunity. In Delves and Roitt (eds), Encyclopedia of Immunology, 2nd ed. Academic Press, London.

P.V. Hornbeck, J.I. Garrels, Y.Capetanaki, and S. Heimer. 1993. Vimentin expression is differentially regulated by IL-2 and IL-4. J. Immuno. 151:4013-4021.

Presentation Abstracts

I. Behlau, D. Lazinski, J.N. Martin, S.R. Heimer, E.M. Leonard, A. Wright, M.S. Gilmore, C.H. Dohlman, and A. Camilli.  Comparative Genome Sequencing to Identify Staphylococcus aureus Virulence and Antibiotic Resistance Genes causing Keratitis. ARVO General Meeting. Seattle, WA. May 5-9, 2013.

S.R. Heimer, D.J. Evans, and S.M.J. Fleiszig. Pseudomonas aeruginosa type 3 secretion promotes bacterial intracellular survival within epithelial cells by avoiding acidified compartments. ASM General Meeting.  San Franscisco, CA. June 16-19, 2012.

 S.R. Heimer, D.J. Evans, and S.M.J. Fleiszig Type 3 Secretion System-dependent trafficking of Pseudomonas aeruginosa within corneal epithelial cells. ISCLR Biannual Meeting. Napa Valley, CA. August 21-26, 2011.

S.R. Heimer, D.J. Evans, and S.M.J. Fleiszig.P. aeruginosa trafficking to acidic vacuoles within corneal epithelial cells. ARVO General Meeting. Ft. Lauderdale, FL. May 1-5, 2011.

S.R. Heimer, K. Liu, D.J. Evans, and S.M.J. Fleiszig.Trafficking of Pseudomonas aeruginosa within epithelial cells.  ASM General Meeting.  New Orleans, LA. May 21-24, 2011.

S.R. Heimer, J. Mun, M.E. Stern, D.J. Evans, and S.M.J.. Fleiszig. Ocular resistance to Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection in a murine model of dry eye disease. ARVO General Meeting. Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. May 2-6, 2010.

D.K. Augustin, S.R. Heimer, C. Tam, J. LeDue, D.J. Evans, S.M.J. Fleiszig. The Role of mBD-3 in protecting the intact mouse ocular surface against colonization by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. ARVO General Meeting. Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. May 2-6, 2010.

B. Govindarajan, S.J. Spurr-Michaud, S. Heimer, M. Gilmore, P. Argueso, I.K. Gipson. Purification of a protein secreted by non-encapsulated Streptococcus pneumoniae that induces MUC16 shedding in human corneal epithelial cells. ARVO General Meeting. Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. May 2-6, 2010.

S.R. Heimer, J. Mun, M.E. Stern, D.J. Evans, and S.M.J.. Fleiszig. The impact of dry eye disease on resistance to Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection. Gordon Conference: The Biology and Pathobiology of the Cornea. Ventura, CA. March 7-12, 2010.

S.R. Heimer and M.S. Gilmore. Corneal epithelium responds to Staphylococcus aureus with a bacterium-specific transcriptional program. ARVO General Meeting. Ft. Lauderdale, FL. May 3-7, 2009.

M.S. Gregory, J. Klocke, R. Barcia, S. Heimer, J. Zieske, M.S. Gilmore, and B.R. Ksander. CD36 is a critical component of the corneal epithelial barrier to infection. ARVO General Meeting. Ft. Lauderdale, FL. May 3-7, 2009.

I. Behlau, S.R. Heimer, E.M. Leonard, J.N. Martin, C.H. Dohlman, and M.S. Gilmore. Staphylococcus aureus-associated keratitis: phenotypic and genotypic characterization. ARVO General Meeting. Ft. Lauderdale, FL. May 3-7, 2009.

S.R. Heimer, A. Yamada, and M.S. Gilmore. Staphylococcus aureus toxins impact the proinflammatory and stress responses of human corneal epithelial cells during infection ASM General Meeting. Boston, MA. June 2-5, 2008.

M.S. Gregory, R.N. Barcia, S. Heimer, C.Hackett, M.S. Gilmore, and B.R. Ksander. Spontaneous bacterial keratitis in CD36 knockout mice. ARVO General Meeting. Ft. Lauderdale, FL. April 27-May 1, 2008.

S.R. Heimer, A. Yamada, and M.S. Gilmore. The impact of Staphylococcus aureus toxins on the proinflammatory and stress responses of human corneal epithelial cells. ARVO General Meeting. Ft. Lauderdale, FL. April 27-May 1, 2008.

S.J. Spurr-Michaud, S. Heimer, P. Argueso, M. Gilmore, and I. Gipson. Non-encapsulated Streptococcus pneumoniae isolated from patients with epidemic conjunctivitis induces release of the ocular surface membrane mucins. ARVO General Meeting. Ft. Lauderdale, FL. April 27-May 1, 2008.

A. Yamada, S.R. Heimer, and M. S. Gilmore. Toxigenic Staphylococcus aureus infection induces CCL20 secretion in the corneal epithelium. ARVO General Meeting. Ft. Lauderdale, FL. April 27-May 1, 2008.

A. Yamada, S.R. Heimer, and M.S. Gilmore. The proinflammatory response of human corneal epithelial cells to toxigenic Staphylococcus aureus. International Conference on the Tear Film & Ocular Surface. Taormina, Italy. September 2007.

S.R. Heimer, A. Yamada, and M.S. Gilmore. The proinflammatory response of primary human corneal epithelial cells to Toxigenic Staphylococcus aureus. ARVO General Meeting. Ft. Lauderdale, FL. May 6-10, 2007.

R.N. Barcia, E. Whiston, K. Lee, S.R. Heimer, S. Masli, A. Marshak-Rothstein, M. Gregory, B.R. Ksander. Age and gender–related spontaneous bacterial keratitis in CD36KO mice. AAI General Meeting. Miami Beach, FL. May 18-22, 2007.

E. Whiston, N. Sugi, C. Sack, M.C. Kamradt, S. Heimer, M.S. Gilmore, B.R. Ksander, and M. Gregory. S. aureus Endophthalmitis Induces Increased Retinal Damage in B-Crystallin Deficient Mice. ARVO General Meeting. Ft. Lauderdale, FL. May 6-10, 2007.

T.D. Blalock, A.S. Tisdale, S.R. Heimer, S.J. Spurr-Michaud, M.S. Gilmore, I.K. Gipson. Effects of Muc16 Knockdown in Human Corneal-limbal epithelial cells. ARVO General Meeting. Ft. Lauderdale, FL. May 6-10, 2007.

S.R. Heimer and M.S. Gilmore. Toxigenic S. aureus Downregulates Proinflammatory Cytokine Release from Cultured Human Corneal Epithelial Cells. Boston Bacterial Meeting. Boston, MA. June 9-10, 2006.

M.K. Kevosky, E. Whiston, N. Sugi, S. Heimer, M. Engelbert, M. Gilmore, B. Ksander, and M. Gregory. Upregulation of the small heat shock protein αB-crystallin protects retinal function during destructive endopthalmitis. ARVO General Meeting. Ft. Lauderdale, FL. April 30-May 4, 2006

S.R. Heimer, M.T. McKevitt, and M.S. Gilmore. Toxigenic S. aureus downregulates proinflammatory cytokine release from cultured human corneal epithelial cells. 24th Biennial Cornea Research Conference. Boston, MA. Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2005.

S.R. Heimer, D. Rasko, C.V. Lockatell, D. Johnson, and H.L.T. Mobley. Characterization of Pic and Tsh autotransporter homologues in uropathogenic Escherichia coli CFT073. ASM General Meeting. Washington, D.C. May 18-22, 2003.

S.R. Heimer, H.L.T. Mobley, R. Welch, J. Kaper, N. Perna, P. Evans, G. Pòsfai, and F. Blattner. Urease of enterohemorrhagic E. coli: Evidence for regulation by a trans-acting factor. ASM General Meeting. Los Angeles, CA. May 21-25, 2000.

S.R. Heimer, H.L.T. Mobley, R. Welch, J. Kaper, N. Perna, G. Pòsfai, and F. Blattner. Urease of enterohemorrhagic E. coli is not induced by urea, nitrogen limitation, and pH. ASM General Meeting. Chicago, IL. May 30-June 3, 1999.

S.R. Heimer and H.L.T. Mobley. Interactions among P. mirabilis urease accessory proteins detected using a yeast two-hybrid system. ASM General Meeting. Miami, FL. May 4-8, 1997.

S.R. Heimer and G.J. Barcak. Sequence and characterization of the H. influenzae gor locus: Possible role in genetic transformation. ASM General Meeting. Washington, D.C. May 21-25, 1995.

P.V. Hornbeck, S.P. Donald, and S. Heimer. A major cellular phosphoprotein correlates with the inhibition of cell cycle progression in B lymphocytes. AAAS Seminar. Boston, MA. February 17, 1993.

American Association for Colleges of Pharmacy
American Society for Microbiology
Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology

2014

Touro University Biological Sciences Professor of Year – elected by COP co16 and co17

2013, 2014

Touro Idol Master of Ceremonies – elected by COP co16 and co17

2012

Intramural Research Award (4k), Touro University College of Pharmacy

2011

International Travel Grant, International Society for Contact Lens Research

2006

National Eye Research Travel Grant, Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology

2005

International Travel Grant, International Society for Contact Lens Research

2002

Phi Kappa Phi

1999, 1996

Graduate Student Presentation Award, University of Maryland, Baltimore

1995

Graduate Academic Merit Award, University of Maryland, Baltimore

Employer Title From - To
Touro University California Assistant Professor 2009 to present
University of California, Berkeley Visiting Scholar 2009 to 2013
Schepens Eye Res Institute - Harvard Med School Research Fellow 2004-2008
University of Maryland, Baltimore Postdoctoral Research Fellow 2002-2004
University of Maryland, Baltimore Graduate Research Assistant 1995-2002
University of Maryland, Baltimore Research Assistant 1991-1995
Last Updated: 5/5/17