Heather A. Bruns, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Biology
Ball State University





Educational Background

Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN  Ph.D. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, 2003
Doctoral Candidate, 1999
Indiana University – Purdue University, Fort Wayne, IN  Master’s of Biology Program
Indiana University, Bloomington, IN  B.S.  Biochemistry,

Professional Background

2013-Current.......Coordinator of Undergraduate Programs, Executive Council Member, Autumn Immunology

2008-2012...........Council member, Autumn Immunology Conference

2006-2012...........Secretary, Indiana Academy of Science

Current.................Associate Professor, Department of Biology, Ball State University

2002 fall................Lecturer, Mechanisms of Immune Regulation, Indiana University School of Medicine
2002 fall................Course Instructor, Human Anatomy (Distance Learning, video instruction course), Indiana University-Purdue University, Columbus, IN
2001 summer.......Content Editor, Microbiology Study Guide, The College Network, Indianapolis, IN
1998 summer.......Course Instructor, Microbiology Lab for Allied Health Professionals Indiana Univ-Purdue Ft Wayne


2013   Recipient of the Indiana Branch of the American Society for Microbiology-Academic Teaching Award

Courses Currently Teaching

Bio 111 Introduction to Biology
Bio 344 Introduction to Immunology and Virology
Bio 631 Graduate Virology
Bio 636 Graduate Immunology

General Research and Interest Areas

Over the past 11 years, I have established a diverse immunology research program.  My lab has investigated the effects of broad spectrum antibiotics and mucosal integrity on oral tolerance, and in collaboration with my colleague, Dr. Susan McDowell, we have examined the effects of simvastatin on immune responses following primary and secondary infections with Staphyloccocus aureus. 

Currently, however, my lab is exploring aspects of herbal medicinal therapy and investigating specific immunologic mechanisms that can support or refute the effectiveness of these treatments.  Presently, we are investigating the effect of extract from L. japonica on B and T lymphocyte functions.  L. japonica is an herb commonly used in Chinese medicine and is known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral effects.  While many investigations involving L. japonica have examined its effects on innate immune responses, such as inflammation, little is known is about how it may alter adaptive immune responses involving B and T cells.  While my lab is currently investigating the effects of the extract of L. japonica on adaptive immune functions, I have plans to expand our research to include additional herbs. 


DeWalt, R. I., Petkovich, D. A., Zahrt, A. N., Bruns, H. A., McDowell, S. A. (2013). Host cell invasion by Staphylococcus aureus stimulates the shedding of microvesicles. BBRC, 432(4), 695-700. 

Erin M. Burns*, Lisa K. Smelser*, Jenny E. Glassburn*, Traci E. Stankiewicz*, Michael Kushdilian*, Susan A. McDowell, Heather A. Bruns.  Short term statin treatment improves survival and differentially regulates macrophage-mediated responses to Staphylococcus aureus.(2012) Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology.  2013 Feb;14(2):233-41.

Sydney E. Lambert*, Jeremy M. Kinder*, Jenny E. Then*, Kelly N. Parliament*, Heather A. Bruns. Erythromycin treatment hinders the induction of oral tolerance to fed ovalbumin. (2012)  Frontiers in Mucosal Immunity. 3:203. Epub 2012 Jul 18.

Nicole L. Glosson, Heather A. Bruns, Mark H. Kaplan.  Wheezing and Itching: The Requirement for STAT proteins in Allergic Inflammation. (2011) JAK-STAT.  1(1):3-12.

Stankiewicz TE; Haaning KL; Owens JM; Jordan AS; Gammon K; Bruns HA; McDowell SA.  GTPase activating protein function of p85 facilitates uptake and recycling of the ß1 integrin.  (2009)  Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications.  391(1):443-448.

Crane ED, Stephenson N, Haffner C, Bruns HA.  Active Immune Response Protects Stat6VT Transgenic Mice from Developing a Lymphoproliferative Disorder.  (2009)  Immunobiology.  215(7):579-585

Sehra S, Bruns HA, Ahyi AN, Nguyen ET, Michels EG, Schmidt NW, von Bülow GU and Kaplan MH. IL-4 is a critical determinant in the generation of allergic inflammation initiated by a constitutively active Stat6.  (2008)   J Immunol. 2008 Mar 1;180(5):3551-9.

Kaplan MH, Sehra S, Chang HC, O'Malley JT, Mathur AN, Bruns HA.  Constitutively active STAT6 predisposes toward a lymphoproliferative disorder. (2007)  Blood. Dec 15;110(13):4367-9. Epub 2007 Sep 18.

Thieu VT, Nguyen ET, McCarthy BP, Bruns HA, Kapur R, Chang CH, Kaplan MH.  IL-4-stimulated NF-kappaB activity is required for Stat6 DNA binding. (2007)  J Leukoc Biol. Aug;82(2):370-9. Epub 2007 May 18.

Bruns HA, Kaplan MH.  The Role of Constitutively Active Stat6 Proteins in Leukemia and Lymphoma.  (2006)  Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology 57: 245-253.

Chang H-C, Zhang S, Thieu VT, Slee RB, Bruns HA, Laribee RN, Klemsz MJ, Kaplan MH.  PU.1 expression delineates heterogeneity in primary Th2 cells. (2005) Immunity, 22: 693-703

Bruns HA, Schindler U, Kaplan MH.  Expression of a Constitutively Active Stat6 in vivo Alters Lymphocyte Homeostasis with Distinct Effects in T and B Cells. (2003) Journal of Immunology, 170: 3478-3487.

Broxmeyer HE, Bruns HA, Zhang S, Cooper S, Hangoc G, McKenzie AN, Dent AL, Schindler U, Naeger LK, Hoey T, and Kaplan MH.  Th1 Cells Regulate Hematopoietic Progenitor Cell Homeostasis by Production of Oncostatin M. (2002) Immunity, 16: 815-825

Lawless VA, Zhang S, Ozes ON, Bruns  HA, Oldham IL, Hoey T, Grusby MJ and Kaplan MH. Stat4 Regulates Multiple Components of IFNg Inducing Signaling Pathways. (2000) Journal of Immunology, 165: 6803-6808

Professional Memberships

American Association of Immunology (2000-present)
Indiana Branch of the American Society of Microbiology (2003-current)
Indiana Academy of Science (2003-present)


Spring 2012 Indiana Branch of the American Society for Microbiology “An examination of the effect of simvastatin pretreatment on survival in response to secondary bacterial infection”.

Spring 2011 Indiana Academy of Science “The effect of simvastatin on pretreatment of immunologic memory and survival in response to secondary bacterial infection”.

Spring 2009 Indiana Academy of Science  “Examination of the immune response in Staphylococcus aureus-infected mice treated with simvastatin.”

Spring 2009 Ball State University, Sponsored Programs Office “Reduction of intestinal probiotic populations by antibiotic treatment during oral tolerization induces immune activation rather than suppression”

Spring 2008 Cancer Services of Delaware County “Exercise-induced Alterations in Immunoglobulin Levels in Cancer Versus Non-Cancer Patients”

Spring 2007 LillyV Institutional Funding, Ball State University “The Role of the Transcription Factor Stat6 in the Development of Leukemia and Lymphoma”

Spring 2006, Lilly V Grant Proposal, “The Role of the Transcription Factor Stat6 in the Development of Leukemia and Lymphoma”  Award amount: $7,687.77

Spring 2005, Lilly V Grant Proposal, “Examination of Reduced T cell Numbers in Stat6VT Transgenic Mice” Award amount: $14,500 + $3869 supplemental

January 2005, Cancer Services of Delaware County – Little Red Door, “Immunological Examination of the Role of Stat6 in the Initiation and Progression of Lymphoma” Award amount: $3900

Summer 2004, Office of Academic Research and Sponsored Programs Summer Stipend Award, “The role of a mutated, constitutively active, Stat6 protein in lymphoma development”  Award amount: Summer salary

January 2004, Nebraska State Department of Health, “Ehrlichia chaffeensis in Nebraska: Survey of deer for E. chaffeensis-reacting antibodies and assaying of ticks for E. chaffeensis”   Award amount: $10,000 award, shared with Robert Pinger (Department of Physiology and Health Science)

Opportunities and Expectations in the Bruns Lab

  1. My lab can accommodate 2-3 graduate students working on research projects at any given time.   Projects for thesis research generally require more than 1 year, so please contact me as soon as possible after beginning the Master’s of Biology program if you are interested in doing your thesis research in my lab.
  2. My lab can accommodate 2 undergraduate students working on BIO 498 research projects at any given time.  Credit for BIO 498 can be for either 1, 2, or 3 credits for any one semester.  Please keep in mind that only 6 hours of BIO 498 can apply to graduation credits.

  3. Attendance at weekly lab meetings (schedule determined each semester) and the generation of a work product culminating from the research project (paper, grant, presentation) upon completion are required.

    If you are interested in working in my lab, please see the following attachment about the responsibilities of Bruns' lab members.  If you are willing to accept these responsibilities, please contact me about possible research opportunities.