Dr Hilary Morna Sheppard

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Senior Lecturer

Research | Current

My research interests are concerned with the molecular mechanisms that underlie cell differentiation, with a strong focus on non-coding RNAs and in particular miRNAs. My focus 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 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)

Teaching | Current

BioSci201 - Lecturer on Developmental Biology within the 'Molecular and Cellular Biology' course

BioSci359 - Lecturer on Developmental Biology within the 'Developmental Biology and Cancer' course

BioSci359 - Course co-ordinator

BioSci759 - Lecturer for 'Molecular Cell Biology and Biomedicine' - emphasis on non-coding RNA and miRNAs

Postgraduate supervision

Human T cell recognition of cancer-testis antigens – co-supervisor in collaboration with Prof. Rod Dunbar (PhD)

Molecular aspects of human T cell stimulation – co-supervisor in collaboration with Prof. Rod Dunbar (PhD)

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)

Maintaining differentiation potential of human adipose derived stem cells - in collaboration with Dr. Vaughan Feisst and Prof. Rod Dunbar (MSc)

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)

Areas of expertise

Molecular Biology

miRNAs

Immunology

Stem cells

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Biological Safety Committee member

Stem Cell Research Network - co-founder and organiser

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • 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), Melbourne, AUSTRALIA. 21 August - 26 August 2016. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF IMMUNOLOGY. (pp. 1).
    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
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/29911
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Vaughan Feisst, Cristin Print, Rod Dunbar
  • 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, 1210.1186/s12967-014-0292-0
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Vaughan Feisst, Anna Brooks, Vicky Fan, Nigel Birch, Rod Dunbar, Daniel Verdon
  • Verdon, D., Brooks, A. E., Sheppard, H., & Dunbar, P. R. (2/12/2013). Retention of IL-7 Receptor-α 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
  • Sheppard, H., Feisst, V., Brooks, A. E., Chen, J., & Dunbar, R. (2013). Characterisation of Mesenchymal Stem Cell Populations Directly Derived from Human Dermis. Paper presented at Regenerative Medicine: From biology to therapy, Cambridge, UK. 30 October - 1 November 2013.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/28783
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Anna Brooks, Vaughan Feisst, Rod Dunbar, Chun-Jen Jennifer Chen
  • Sheppard, H. M., Ussher, J. E., Verdon, D., Chen, J., Taylor, J. A., & Dunbar, P. R. (2013). Recombinant adeno-associated virus serotype 6 efficiently transduces primary human melanocytes. PLoS One, 8 (4)10.1371/journal.pone.0062753
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rod Dunbar, John Taylor
  • Sheppard, H., Brooks, A. E., Verdon, D., Ho, Y. J., Feisst, V., & Dunbar, P. R. (1/1/2012). Examination of miRNAs involved in programming human T cells. Poster presented at Queenstown Molecular Biology Conference, Non-coding RNA satellite meeting, Queenstown, New Zealand.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Anna Brooks, Daniel Verdon, Vaughan Feisst, Rod Dunbar