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Goddard Hall, 103B

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Destin Heilman

One of the most fulfilling things a teacher can experience is a transfer of one's excitement and passion for a topic to a student. That obvious impact is one of the many reasons that I very much enjoy teaching. At WPI, the seven-week terms keep things changing and allow me to interact with many students throughout the year. The balance between lecture and lab in the WPI curriculum allows me to cater the theoretical concepts that I present, such that the laboratories are a natural extension of what we've covered.

The students at WPI are fantastic. They have amazing aptitude and often pose challenging questions and share fascinating insights that keep me on my toes. Our undergraduates are a focused, determined, and hardworking bunch, turning out very productive projects in their senior research. My research is driven by such undergrads. My laboratory focuses on the biochemistry of a small group of animal viruses that produce proteins able to selectively destroy cancer cells. These proteins demonstrate remarkable sensitivity to many different types of cancer and may unlock new avenues for cancer treatment. I am thrilled by the wonders of what many viruses have evolved to manipulate inside of their host cells. Many strategies for disease research involve synthetic approaches and large-scale screening for preferable activities, but the possibly of nature having evolved and refined such activities already thrills me most of all!

Courses Taught:
CH1030 - Equilibrium
CH2640 - Experimental Chemistry I
CH4110 - Biochemistry I
CH4130 - Biochemistry III
CH4150 - Experimental Biochemistry I
CH4170 - Experimental Biochemistry II

Research Interests

  • Viral protein biochemistry
  • Oncogenesis
  • Intracellular protein trafficking
  • Apoptosis


  • BS, Pennsylvania State University, 2000
  • PhD, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 2006

Featured Publications

  • Gammal R., Baker K., Heilman D. (2011). “Heterokaryon Technique for Analysis of Cell Type-Specific Localization,” JoVE. 49.
  • Heilman D.W., Teodoro J.G. and Green, M.R. (2006). “Cell-Specific Localization and Apoptotic Activity of Viral Apoptin Is Regulated by Multifunctional Domains That Control Nucleo-Cytoplasmic Shuttling,” J. Virology.
  • Heilman D.W., Green M.R. and Teodoro J.G. (2005). “The Anaphase Promoting Complex: A Critical Target for Viral Proteins and Anti-Cancer Drugs,” Cell Cycle.
  • Heilman D.W.*, Teodoro, J.G.*, Parker, A.E., and Green, M.R. (2004). “The Viral Protein Apoptin Associates with the Anaphase Promoting Complex to Induce G2/M Arrest and Apoptosis in the Absence of p53,” Genes Dev. (*equal contributions)

Spotlight On: Current Research

We are researching selective induction of apoptosis in cancer cells by proteins of the circovirus family. These proteins are able to induce cell death in a wide variety of cancers, including those that are p53 null.

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