Heidi J Zapata, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor

Departments & Organizations

Internal Medicine: Infectious Diseases

Yale Medicine


The complex interplay between microbes and the host inflammatory response determines how individuals respond to infection and disease. This relationship is individual to each patient, and is affected by the immune dysregulation seen in older adults and HIV patients. Both aging and HIV disease (even the subset of HIV-infected elite controllers) are associated with elevated levels of cytokines, acute phase reactants, and clotting factors; the term “inflamm-aging” was coined to describe this age-associated pro-inflammatory environment. However, the source of these elevated plasma biomarkers is less well described, and may reflect innate immune dysfunction. The collision of HIV disease and immunosenescence is likely to result in potentiation of age-associated immune dysregulation; thus elucidating the effects of age and HIV disease on innate immune function is crucial to understanding HIV infection in older adults. However, at present, the interface of HIV disease, aging and innate immune responses remains poorly understood

My research project is aimed towards understanding the pattern recognition receptors, C-type lectin receptors, and how they function in young and elderly uninfected, and HIV infected subjects. We are focusing on the receptors Mincle and Dectin-1. Mincle has been identified as a receptor for trehalose dimycolate (TDM) or cord factor, the most abundant mycobacterial glycolipid in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Dectin-1 recognizes b-glucan, a component of fungal cell walls. Understanding how these receptors function may further elucidate the pathogenesis of M. tuberculosis and fungal diseases, in these relevant populations. It is my hope that my project will contribute to understanding how the innate immune response plays a role in infectious disease.

Education & Training

PhD SUNY Upstate Medical University, Microbiology and Immunology (2008)
MD SUNY Upstate Med Center (2008)
Fellowship Yale University School of Medicine
Residency University of Virginia-Charlottesville
Board Certification AB of Internal Medicine, Internal Medicine (2012)
Board Certification AB of Internal Medicine, Infectious Disease (2013, recertified: 2015)

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Contact Info

Heidi J Zapata, MD, PhD
Patient Care Location
Nathan Smith Clinic, 15 York Street Yale New Haven Hospital
20 York Street

New Haven, CT 06510
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Mailing Address
Infectious DiseasesPO Box 208022
New Haven, CT 06520-8022