MD, FRCPC, PhD
Dr. Richard Hegele was born and raised in Toronto, where he received his MD degree from the University of Toronto in 1984. He completed his internship and residency training in Anatomical Pathology at the University of Toronto and is certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the American Board of Pathology.
Dr. Hegele subsequently completed a PhD in Experimental Pathology at the University of British Columbia (UBC). At UBC, he was promoted through the academic ranks, attaining the rank of Professor. He served as Head, UBC Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine from 2005-08.
From January 2009 to December 2015, Dr. Hegele served as Professor and Chair of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto. From February 2011 to December 2016, he also served as Chief, Department of Paediatric Laboratory Medicine at The Hospital for Sick Children.
From January 2016 to June 2020, Dr. Hegele has served as Vice Dean, Research and Innovation in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto.
Respiratory viral infections are a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. In addition their importance in causing serious lung illnesses such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia, respiratory viruses have been implicated in the onset and progression of chronic lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that are characterized by inflammation and remodeling of the airways. My research focuses on the pathobiology of common viruses, particularly respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), in causing lung infections and in their role in asthma and COPD.
Current research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of RSV binding and entry into cells to initiate infection, and kinetics of viral replication within infected cells. To this end, we have identified a cellular receptor for RSV called Nucleolin. This receptor represents a novel target for anti-viral therapy and is important because there is currently no safe, effective vaccine available for RSV.
In addition to RSV pathobiology, I have had a longstanding interest in the mechanisms of the onset of allergy and asthma in children and am involved in the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study, a birth cohort of >3,000 families across Canada (http://childstudy.ca/).\
Tran MM, Lefebvre DL, Dai D, et al. Predicting the atopic march: results from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development Study. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2017; doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.2016/j.jaci.2017.08.024.
Mastrangelo P, Norris MJ, Duan W, et al. Targeting host cell surface nucleolin for RSV therapy: challenges and opportunities. Vaccines 2017;5:27. doi: 10.3390/vaccines5030027.
Mirham L, Naugler C, Hayes M, et al. Performance of residents using digital images versus glass slides on certification examination in anatomical pathology: a mixed methods pilot study. CMAJ Open 2016 Feb 25. published online, 4:E88-E94; doi:10.9778/cmajo.20140075.
Sze MA, Utokaparch S, Elliott WM, et al. Loss of GD1-positive Lactobacillus correlates with inflammation in human lungs with COPD. BMJ Open 2015;5:e006677.doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006677.
Moraes TJ, Lefebvre DL, Chooniedass R, et al. The Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) birth cohort study: biological samples and biobanking. Pediatr Perinatal Epid 2015 Jan 29. (1):84-92. doi: 10.1111/ppe.12161.
Shakeri A, Mastrangelo P, Griffin JK, et al. Respiratory syncytial virus receptor expression in the mouse and viral tropism. Histol Histopathol 2015; 30:401-411.
Honours and Awards
LMP Distinguished Service Award, Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology, University of Toronto (2021)