Picture of Heather  Wilson

Heather Wilson Adjunct Professor, Department of Veterinary Microbiology

Research Area(s)

  • Vaccinology and immunology of veterinary species

Academic Credentials

  • BSc. in Biochemistry, High Honour’s, University of Saskatchewan
  • PhD. in Biochemistry, University of Saskatchewan
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Vaccine & Infectious Disease Organization, University of Saskatchewan

I have trained (or am in the process of training) 3 Postdoctoral Fellows, 2 Master’s Student,  1 Ph.D. Student, 2 full-time technicians, 6 project students and 3 summer students. I have been involved in teaching undergraduate and graduate student courses at the U of S in the Department of Biochemistry (BIOCH 416.3, BMSC 200.3, BINF 210.3), the Department of Veterinary Microbiology (VTMC-830.3), and ITraP Integrative Seminar Series (VBMS 898.3).

Research Interests

My current research focus involves using intrauterine immunization to promote mucosal immunity, using pig as an animal model. Pigs are ideal because a sow’s cervix is permissive to catheters during standing estrous and they are routinely artificially inseminated using this procedure. Her other research areas include filling the fundamental gap in our knowledge of the permeability of the neonatal piglet gut and to capitalize on its semi-permeable state to develop mucosal vaccines. Dr. Wilson’s areas of expertise include mucosal immunology, neonatal vaccinology, swine immunology, and elucidating mechanism of adjuvant signalling.

 Current Projects:

  • Determine the regional and age-dependent differences in intestinal permeability to macromolecules and maternal cells
  • Intrauterine immunization - a novel approach to induce broad mucosal immunity
  • Development of novel vaccine for newborns against Lawsonia intracellularis: a platform technology
  • Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhea- animal models and vaccine development


Hamonic, G., Pasternak, J. A., Wilson, H.L. “Recognizing conserved non-canonical localization patterns of Toll-like receptors in tissues and across species.” Cell & Tissue Research, 2018. doi:10.1007/s00441-017-2767-9.

Pasternak J.A., Hamonic, G., Forsberg, N.M., Wheler, C.L., Dyck, M.K., Wilson, H.L. (2017) “Intrauterine delivery of subunit vaccines induces a systemic and mucosal immune response in rabbits.” American Journal of Reproductive Immunology 3 Aug 2017. doi: 10.1111/aji.12732.

Pasternak, J.A., Aiyer, V.I.A., Hamonic, G., Beaulieu, D., Columbus, D., Wilson, H.L., (2017) “Molecular and physiological effects on the small intestines of weaner pigs following feeding with Deoxynivalenol-contaminated feed.” Toxins, 10.3390/toxins10010040.

Pasternak J.A., Hamonic, G., Forsberg, N.M., Wheler, C.L., Dyck, M.K., Wilson, H.L. (2017) “Intrauterine delivery of subunit vaccines induces a systemic and mucosal immune response in rabbits.” Am J Reprod Immunol 3 AUG 2017. doi: 10.1111/aji.12732.

Pasternak, J.A., Hamonic, G., Van Kessel, A., Wilson, H.L. (2016) “Postnatal regulation of MAMDC4 in the porcine intestinal epithelium is influenced by bacterial colonization.” Physiological Reports. Nov 4 (21). doi: 10.14814/phy2.13018.

Hamonic, G., Pasternak, J.A., Kaeser, T., Meurens, F., Wilson, H.L. (2016) “Extended semen for artificial insemination in swine a potential transmission mechanism for infectious Chlamydia suis.” Theriogenology. Sep 1;86(4):949-56. doi: 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2016.03.018.

Obradovic, M.R., Pasternak, J.A., Ng, S., Wilson, H.L. (2016) “Use of flow cytometry and PCR analysis to detect 5'-carboxyfluoroscein-stained obligate intracellular bacteria Lawsonia intracellularis invasion of McCoy cells.”Journal of Microbiological Methods, Jul;126:60-6. doi: 10.1016/j.mimet.2016.04.015.

Wilson, H.L. and Obradovic, M.R., (2014) “Evidence for a common mucosal immune system in the pig.” Molecular Immunology, Jul;66(1):22-34. doi: 10.1016/j.molimm.2014.09.004.

Pasternak JA, Ng S, Buchanan RM, Mertins, S, Mutwiri, GK, Gerdts, V, Wilson, HL. Oral antigen exposure in newborn piglets induces oral immunity in response to systemic vaccination in later life. BMC Vet Res. 2015;MS: 1866610510126377(In Press).

Pasternak JA, Kent-Dennis C, Van Kessel AG, Wilson HL. Claudin-4 undergoes age-dependent change in cellular localization on pig jejunal villous epithelial cells, independent of bacterial colonization. Mediators Inflamm. 2015;2015:263629.

Wilson HL, Obradovic MR. Evidence for a common mucosal immune system in the pig. Mol Immunol. 2014;Sept 18(pii: S0161-5890(14)00240-5).

Pasternak JA, Ng S, Wilson HL. A single, low dose oral antigen exposure in newborn piglets primes mucosal immunity if administered with CpG oligodeoxynucleotides and polyphosphazene adjuvants. Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2014;161(3-4):211–221.

Pasternak JA, Ng S, Käser T, Meurens F, Wilson HL. Grouping Pig-Specific Responses to Mitogen with Similar Responder Animals may Facilitate the Interpretation of Results Obtained in an Out-Bred Animal Model. J Vacc Vaccinol. 2014;5(4).

Maciolek JA, Pasternak JA, Wilson HL. Metabolism of activated T lymphocytes. Curr Opin Immunol. 2014;27:60-74.