Dr Hilary Morna Sheppard
Research | Current
My research interests are concerned with the molecular mechanisms that underlie cell differentiation, with a focus on microRNAs. My main interest to date has been on two clinically relevant cell types – T cells and stem cells.
Being able to control the differentiation status of a cell is critical to successful immunotherapy protocols, where patients’ immune cells (T cells in this case) are used to treat their own cancer. Therefore, in collaboration with Prof. Rod Dunbar and his team (SBS, University of Auckland) we are examining the role miRNAs play in T cell differentiation. In collaboration with Prof. Tduor Fulga and his team at Oxford University, UK, we are also applying genome editing techniques to these cells in order to create "optimal" T cells for use in immunotherapies..
In the field of stem cell biology, being able to control the differentiation potential and status of human adipose derived stem cells (ASC) will be critical to the success of therapies using these cells. By understanding these processes at the molecular level we aim to develop methods to generate stem cells with maximum differentiation potential for use in a clinical setting. This work is in collaboration with Dr. Vaughan Feisst (SBS, University of Auckland).
More recently we have begun to turn our attention to using genome editing tools, specifically CRISPR/Cas9, to create patient-specific genome-edited skin as a potential treatment for people with the fragile skin condition known as Epidermolysis Bullosa. This is a collaborative project with Prof. Fulga from Oxford University, UK, Dr. Diana Purvis from Starship Hospital, Auckland and Dr. Vaughan Feisst from SBS.
Teaching | Current
BISCI107 - Lecturer on human developmental biology within the 'Biology for Biomed Sciences' course
BIOSCI201 - Lecturer on developmental biology within the 'Molecular and Cellular Biology' course
BIOSCI351 - Lecturer on gene function, gene editing and ethics within the 'Molecular Genetics' course
BIOSCI356 - Lecturer on developmental biology within the 'Developmental Biology and Cancer' course
BIOSCI356 - Course director and co-ordinator
MEDSCI740 - Lecturer on adult stem cells for the Stem Cell biology and Transgenesis' course
Genome editing in primary human T cells - in collaboration with Prof. Tudor Fulga (Oxford, UK), Prof. Rod Dunabr (SBS and Dr. Dan Verdon (SBS)(PhD)
Molecular aspects of human T cell stimulation – co-supervisor in collaboration with Prof. Rod Dunbar (PhD)
Fine-tuning gene expression of immunomodulatory proteins - in collaboration with Dr. Yale Michaels (Oxford, UK), Prof. Fulga (Oxford, UK) and Dr. Dan Verdon (SBS) (MSc)
Maintaining differentiation potential of human adipose derived stem cells - in collaboration with Dr. Vaughan Feisst and Prof. Rod Dunbar (MSc)
Human T cell recognition of cancer-testis antigens – co-supervisor in collaboration with Prof. Rod Dunbar (PhD)
Understanding the role of stem cells in normal human skin, wound healing, and disease - in collaboration with Dr. Vaughan Feisst and Prof. Rod Dunbar (Honours)
Unravelling the molecular mechanism behind variation in genetic instructions that regulate development of the animal - co-supervisor in collaboration with Prof. Joel Rothman (PhD)
miRNA modulation in patients with Multiple Sclerosis - in collaboration with Innatetherapeutics (Biomed honours)
Areas of expertise
Molecular Biology Genome editing in adult cells
Immunology Stem cells
Biological Safety Committee member
Stem Cell Research Network - co-founder and organiser
Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)
- Michaels, Y. S., Barnkob, M. B., Barbosa, H., Baeumler, T. A., Thompson, M. K., Andre, V., ... Sheppard, H. M. (2019). Precise tuning of gene expression levels in mammalian cells. Nature communications, 10 (1)10.1038/s41467-019-08777-y
- Eom, J., Feisst, V., Ranjard, L., Loomes, K., Damani, T., Jackson-Patel, V., ... Dunbar, P. R. (2018). Visualization and Quantification of Mesenchymal Cell Adipogenic Differentiation Potential with a Lineage Specific Marker. Journal of Visualized Experiments (133).10.3791/57153
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Pritika Narayan, Vaughan Feisst, Kerry Loomes, Tanvi Damani, Michelle Locke, Rod Dunbar
- Verdon, D. J., Brooks, A. E. S., Sheppard, H. M., Ho, Y. J., & Dunbar, P. R. (2016). Antigen-specific CD8(+) human memory stem T-cell clones: decoupling T-cell differentiation and division. Paper presented at International Congress of Immunology (ICI), Melbourne, AUSTRALIA. 21 August - 26 August 2016. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF IMMUNOLOGY. (pp. 2).
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Anna Brooks, Rod Dunbar
- Park, S. M., McIntosh, J. D., Sheppard, H. M., Brooks, A. E. S., Chen, C. J. J., Cebon, J., & Dunbar, P. R. (2016). B-lymphocyte trafficking in human lymph nodes: CXCL13 does not derive from follicular dendritic cells. Paper presented at International Congress of Immunology (ICI) 2016, Melbourne, Australia. 21 August - 26 August 2016. European Journal of Immunology: Abstracts of ICI 2016 International Congress of Immunology.
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Anna Brooks, Julie McIntosh, Chun-Jen Jennifer Chen, Rod Dunbar, Saem Park
- Sheppard, H. M., Feisst, V., Chen, J., Print, C., & Dunbar, P. R. (2016). AHNAK is downregulated in melanoma, predicts poor outcome, and may be required for the expression of functional cadherin-1. Melanoma Research, 26 (2), 108-116. 10.1097/CMR.0000000000000228
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Vaughan Feisst, Cristin Print, Rod Dunbar
- Sheppard, H., Verdon, D., Brooks, A., Feisst, V., Ho, J., Lorenz, N., ... Dunbar, P. R. (2015). The role of microRNAs in T cell differentiation. Paper presented at New Zealand Branch meeting of Australasian Society of Immunology, Auckland, New Zealand. 2 July - 3 July 2015.
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Daniel Verdon, Anna Brooks, Natalie Lorenz, Alicia Didsbury, Rod Dunbar, Vaughan Feisst
- Sheppard, H. M., Verdon, D., Brooks, A. E. S., Feisst, V., Ho, Y. Y. J., Lorenz, N., ... Dunbar, P. R. (2014). MicroRNA regulation in human CD8+ T cell subsets – Cytokine exposure alone drives miR-146a expression. Journal of Translational Medicine, 12 (1)10.1186/s12967-014-0292-0
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Vaughan Feisst, Anna Brooks, Vicky Fan, Natalie Lorenz, Rod Dunbar, Daniel Verdon, Alicia Didsbury
- Verdon, D., Brooks, A. E., Sheppard, H., & Dunbar, P. R. (2/12/2013). Retention of IL-7 Receptor-Î± expression in CD8+ T cell clones. Poster presented at 43rd Annual Scientific Meeting for the Australasian Society for Immunology, Wellington, New Zealand. Related URL.
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Anna Brooks, Rod Dunbar, Daniel Verdon