Dr Nikki Moreland

BSc Waik., PhD Auck.


Dr Nikki Moreland is a National Heart Foundation Senior Research Fellow and a Senior Lecturer in Immunology. She joined the Faculty as a member of staff in 2016. Nikki obtained her PhD from the University of Auckland and was previously a research fellow in the School of Biological Sciences, Auckland and Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore. She has also held positions in the British pharmaceutical industry bringing a translational element to her research. 


Research | Current

Dr. Moreland’s laboratory studies the mechanisms that drive antibody specificity using a combination of protein biochemistry and molecular biology. The laboratory seeks to better understand how a functional antibody repertoire can protect against infection, yet dysregulation of the immune system produces autoantibodies that can attack the body’s own tissues.

The major research focus of the laboratory is rheumatic fever, an autoimmune disease that can develop after an untreated Group A Streptococcus infection. Globally, Group A Streptococcus is placed in the ‘top 10’ infectious causes of human death. The rates of rheumatic fever in Maori and Pacific children in New Zealand are amongst the highest in the world, and the disease pathology is poorly understood. 

The laboratory is profiling the antibody repertoires of patients with rheumatic fever using a variety of technologies including high content protein arrays and antibody phage display. Mapping the antibody specificities in rheumatic fever will improve understanding of the disease and contribute to the development of better diagnostics. 

The group is also involved in efforts to develop new vaccines for Group A Streptococcus. Biochemical and biophysical techniques are used to elucidate the molecular mechanisms by which antibodies recognise potential vaccine antigens to inform vaccine design.

Current lab members 

  • Dr Paulina Hanson-Manful, postdoctoral research fellow
  • Mei Lin Tay, research technician
  • Alana Whitcombe, research technician
  • Jeremy Raynes, PhD student
  • Sok By, MSc student
  • Devaki Pilapitiya, BBioMedSc Honours student

Areas of expertise

Antibody technology, Infectious disease

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Sikder, S., Williams, N. L., Sorenson, A. E., Alim, M. A., Vidgen, M. E., Moreland, N. J., ... Norton, R. E. (2017). Group G streptococcus induces an autoimmune IL-17A/IFN-γ mediated carditis in the Lewis rat model of Rheumatic Heart Disease. The Journal of infectious diseases10.1093/infdis/jix637
  • O'Sullivan L, Moreland, N. J., Webb, R. H., Upton, A., & Wilson, N. J. (2017). Acute Rheumatic Fever after Group A Streptococcus Pyoderma and Group G Streptococcus Pharyngitis. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, 36 (7), 692-694. 10.1097/INF.0000000000001558
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Rachel Webb
  • Schödel F, Moreland, N. J., Wittes, J. T., Mulholland, K., Frazer, I., Steer, A. C., ... Carapetis, J. (2017). Clinical development strategy for a candidate group A streptococcal vaccine. Vaccine, 35 (16), 2007-2014. 10.1016/j.vaccine.2017.02.060
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: John Fraser
  • Lorenz, N., Loh, J., Moreland, N., & Proft, T. (2017). Development of a high-throughput opsonophagocytic assay for the determination of functional antibody activity against Streptococcus pyogenes using bioluminescence. Journal of Microbiological Methods, 134, 58-61. 10.1016/j.mimet.2017.01.010
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/34689
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Jacelyn Loh, Thomas Proft, Natalie Lorenz
  • Hanson-Manful, P., Whitcombe, A. L., Young, P. G., Atatoa Carr, P. E., Bell, A., Didsbury, A., ... Moreland, N. J. (2017). The novel Group A Streptococcus antigen SpnA combined with bead-based immunoassay technology improves streptococcal serology for the diagnosis of acute rheumatic fever. Journal of Infection10.1016/j.jinf.2017.12.008
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Thomas Proft, Paul Young, Edwin Mitchell, Rod Dunbar, Alicia Didsbury
  • Williamson, D. A., Smeesters, P. R., Steer, A. C., Morgan, J., Davies, M., Carter, P., ... Moreland, N. J. (2016). Comparative M-protein analysis of Streptococcus pyogenes from pharyngitis and skin infections in New Zealand: Implications for vaccine development. BMC infectious diseases, 16 (1)10.1186/s12879-016-1891-6
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: John Fraser
  • Raynes, J., Frost, H., Williamson, D., Young, P., Baker, E., Steemson, J., ... Atatoa Carr, P. (2016). Serological evidence of immune priming by group A streptococci in patients with acute rheumatic fever. Frontiers in Microbiology, 7, 1-6. 10.3389/fmicb.2016.01119
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/30468
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Edward Baker, Thomas Proft, Paul Young, Rod Dunbar, Jacelyn Loh, Jeremy Raynes
  • Steer, A. C., Carapetis, J. R., Dale, J. B., Fraser, J. D., Good, M. F., Guilherme, L., ... Smeesters, P. R. (2016). Status of research and development of vaccines for Streptococcus pyogenes. Vaccine, 34 (26), 2953-2958. 10.1016/j.vaccine.2016.03.073
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: John Fraser


Contact details

Primary location

M&HS BUILDING 502 - Bldg 502
Level 3, Room 301J
New Zealand

Web links