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Professor Orla Sheils

Professor (Histopathology)

Professor Orla Sheils is: . Director of the Trinity Translational Medicine Institute (TTMI), . Professor in Molecular Pathology and . Director of Medical Ethics at the School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin. She has a PhD in Molecular Pathology from Trinity College Dublin and a MA in Medical Law and Ethics from Kings College London. The underlying theme of her research is to understand the causes and molecular basis of the development of disease, with particular reference to cancer, and to apply this knowledge to improving disease prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment. She has a particular interest in developing novel molecular diagnostics. Translational research is the common theme throughout Prof Sheils' research, linking identification of disease processes with targets for early disease detection or classification. She has been an independent investigator since 2001 and has supervised 24 students to PhD level. Her department currently has 6 students pursuing the degree of PhD by research. She works closely with industry bringing novel technologies and applications to the translational research setting.
  Autoimmunity   Bioinformatics   Biomedical ethics   Cancer genetics and cell biology including metastasis   Cervical cancer   Commercialisation of scientific research   Diagnostics   Endocrine function and disease   Environmental Carcinogenesis   Foetal, maternal and neonatal physiology   Gene transcription in human cancer   Gynaecology oncology   HASHIMOTO THYROIDITIS   Immunochemistry and immunogenetics   Inflammatory bowel disease   Intra and intercellular signalling   Medical Law   Medical Sciences, Research   Membrane and protein trafficking   Oncogenes, apoptosis and tumour development   Oral diseases and Oral medicine   Oral pathology   Pathophysiology   Prostate cancer   Quantitative and molecular genetics   Regulatory methods of gene expression   RET ONCOGENE ACTIVATION   RNA processing, stability and degradation   Role of oestrogens in age related urogenital diseases   SIGNAL TRANSDUCTION   TAQMAN RT-PCR   Thyroid Cancer   Tumour immunology and immunotherapy   TYROSINE PHOSPHORYLATION   Virology and viral pathogenesis
 Current Projects
 Molecular Pathology of Thyroid Disease
 Head and Neck Oncology
 Molecular Markers in Cervical Cancer
 Molecular Profiling in Prostate Cancer

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Details Date
Member of the Advisory Committee - Societal Challenge 1, Health & Demographic Change. European Commission 2013
Board Member - European Institute of Women's Health 2017
Associate Editor Irish Journal of Medical Science 2017
National workgroup on Bio-banking 2012
Member, MMI Cancer Principal Investigators, Trans-institutional grouping of Principal Investigators leading research on Cancer themes 2010
Associate Editor BMC Cancer 2010
Member, Core Technology PI's, DMMC Principal Investigators leading the development of core technology platforms. 2006
Wellcome Trust - Reviewer 2005
Reviewer for South African Medical Research Council 2004
Scientific Advisor - I act in an advisory capacity for ThermoFisher, offering insight into planning and development of molecular diagnostic tools, ensuring the internationally renowned profiles of the Discipline of Histopathology and of College are maintained and positioning us to have early access to novel products and have input into their construction. 2010
Reviewer for Hong Kong Earmarked Research Grants (ERG) [administered by the Research Grants Council (RGC) ] 2005
Member of Editorial Board of Journal of Endocrine Pathology 2009
Advisor to the National Council with expertise in Medical Teaching -USI Academic Affairs Advisory Panel. 2015
Reviewer for journals including: Oncogene, Nature Biotechnology, Nature Medicine, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Molecular Cancer, Molecular Endocrinology, Journal of Pathology, Modern Pathology, International Journal of Surgical Pathology, DU Law Review 2003
Language Skill Reading Skill Writing Skill Speaking
English Fluent Fluent Fluent
Details Date From Date To
Member of the Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland 2001 present
Member of Medico-legal Society of Ireland 2006 present
Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists 2007 present
Fellow of the Institute of Biomedical Sciences 2016 present
Leahy TR, McManus R, Doherty DG, Grealy R, Coulter T, Smyth P, Blackshields G, Sheils O, Carr MJ, Purandare N, Geary M, Hodemaekers HM, Janssen R, Bont L, Slattery D, Ryan T, Interleukin-15 is associated with disease severity in viral bronchiolitis., The European respiratory journal, 47, (1), 2016, p212-22 , Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Sadlier, C., Sheils, O., Bergin, C., Response to letter: limitations of human papillomavirus DNA testing in measuring previous exposure and vaccine protection, HIV Medicine, 17, (7), 2016, p557-558 , Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Sadlier, C., Lynam, A., O'Dea, S., Delamere, S., Quinlan, M., Clarke, S., Sheils, O., Bergin, C., HPV vaccine acceptability in HIV-infected and HIV negative men who have sex with men (MSM) in Ireland, Human Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics, 12, (6), 2016, p1536-1541 , Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Aherne, S.T., Smyth, P., Freeley, M., Smith, L., Spillane, C., O'Leary, J., Sheils, O., Altered expression of MIR-222 and MIR-25 influences diverse gene expression changes in transformed normal and anaplastic thyroid cells, and impacts on MEK and TRAIL protein expression, International Journal of Molecular Medicine, 38, (2), 2016, p433-445 , Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Emma R Dorris, Gordon Blackshields, Gary Sommerville, Mohsen Alhashemi, Andrew Dias, Victoria McEneaney, Paul Smyth, John J O'Leary, Orla Sheils, Pluripotency markers are differentially induced by MEK inhibition in thyroid and melanoma BRAFV600E cell lines, Cancer biology & therapy, 17, (5), 2016, p526 - 542, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
O'Sullivan J., O'Sullivan J., Aguila S., Aguila S., McRae E., Ward S., Ward S., Rawley O., Fallon P., Brophy T., Brophy T., Preston R., Preston R., Brady L., Sheils O., Chion A., Chion A., O'Donnell J., O'Donnell J., O'Donnell J., N-linked glycan truncation causes enhanced clearance of plasma-derived von Willebrand factor, Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, 14, (12), 2016, p2446-2457 , Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Chion A, O'Sullivan JM, Drakeford C, Bergsson G, Dalton N, Aguila S, Ward S, Fallon PG, Brophy TM, Preston RJ, Brady L, Sheils O, Laffan M, McKinnon TA, O'Donnell JS., N-linked glycans within the A2 domain of von Willebrand factor modulate macrophage-mediated clearance., Blood, 128, (15), 2016, p1959-1968 , Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Khan AR, Amu S, Saunders SP, Hams E, Blackshields G, Leonard MO, Weaver CT, Sparwasser T, Sheils O, Fallon PG., Ligation of TLR7 on CD19(+) CD1d(hi) B cells suppresses allergic lung inflammation via regulatory T cells., European Journal of Immunology, 2015, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI
Czilwik, G., Messinger, T., Strohmeier, O., Wadle, S., Von Stetten, F., Paust, N., Roth, G., Zengerle, R., Saarinen, P., Niittymäki, J., McAllister, K., Sheils, O., O'Leary, J., Mark, D., Rapid and fully automated bacterial pathogen detection on a centrifugal-microfluidic LabDisk using highly sensitive nested PCR with integrated sample preparation, Lab on a Chip - Miniaturisation for Chemistry and Biology, 15, (18), 2015, p3749-3759 , Journal Article, PUBLISHED
McEvoy, L.M., O'Toole, S.A., Spillane, C.D., Martin, C.M., Gallagher, M.F., Stordal, B., Blackshields, G., Sheils, O., O'Leary, J.J., Identifying novel hypoxia-associated markers of chemoresistance in ovarian cancer, BMC Cancer, 15, (1), 2015, p547-, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI

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M O'Donovan, I Silva, OM Sheils, JJ O'Leary, Molecular Analysis of Primary Effusion Lymphoma, 91st annual meeting USCAP, Chicago, IL, 2002, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
M O'Donovan, I Silva, C. Martin, SB Lucas, OM Sheils, JJ O'Leary, Expression Profiling of Kaposi's Sarcoma reveals dysregulation of immunomodulatory, pro-inflammatory, connective tissue and vascular/haematological related genes, Annual Meeting of the Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Dublin, 2002, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
P Smyth, S Finn, JJ O'Leary, O Sheils, E-cadherin expression is reduced in ret/PTC-1 but not ret/PTC-3 activated thyroid neoplasms, neoplasms., Dublin, 2002, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
M O'Donovan, I Silva, C Martin, O Sheils, JJ O'Leary, Molecular Analysis of Primary Effusion Lymphoma using mFISH and CGH analysis demonstrates common molecular genetic pathways, Annual Meeting of the Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Dublin, 2002, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
N Murphy, M Ring, A Killalea, F Mulcahy, E McGuinness, M Griffin, C Martin, O Sheils, JJ O'Leary, p16ink4a, cdc 6, mcm 5 and HPV status: predictive biomarkers of cervical pre-neoplasia?, Annual Meeting of the Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Dublin, 2002, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
C Hughes, C Martin, O Sheils, B Loftus, JJ O'Leary, Development of a detailed molecular profile for prostate cancer, Annual Meeting of the Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Dublin, 2002, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
A Crowley, JJ O'Leary, O Sheils, C Martin, F Taulo, J Anthony, C O'Herlihy, BM Byrne, Quantification of fetal DNA in the peripheral blood of women with pre-eclampsia in South Africa and Ireland -a useful marker of disease severity, Annual Meeting of the Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Dublin, 2002, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
I Silva, M O'Donovan, N Murphy, O Sheils, SB Lucas, JJ O'Leary, Genome wide evaluation of a HHV8 virally transformed co-hybrid cell culture model system, Annual Meeting of the Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Dublin, 2002, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
CM Martin, V Uhlmann, O Sheils, L Pilkington, I Silva, A Killalea, J Walker Smith, SB Murch, M Thompson, A Wakefield, JJ O'Leary, Potential viral pathogenic mechanism for new variant inflammatory bowel disease, Annual Meeting of the Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Dublin, 2002, Notes: [ ], Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
P Smyth S Finn, JJ O'Leary, O Sheils, Analysis of -catenin expression in thyroid neoplasia, Annual Meeting of the Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Dublin, 2002, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED


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Award Date
FTCD 2009
Provost's Teaching Award 2012
MA jure oficii 2007
My research is of international consequence and of consequence to individual patients. I have developed a significant programme concerned with molecular diagnostics and prognostics. I have made seminal discoveries in the areas of thyroid and cervical pathobiology. I have procured grants worth >€35M, I have published >120 peer reviewed journal articles and presented my work on the international stage. I am a leader in multidisciplinary molecular pathology. I have championed a niche area facilitating interaction between basic science, translational research, clinical service provision and biotechnology. The significance and transformational value of my work resides in my international recognition, industry disruptive research and benefit to cancer patients quality of life. I am Director of and a Principal Investigator in the Trinity Translational Medicine Institute and a PI in Biomedical Diagnostics Institute at DCU. I work closely with several biotech companies and have procured European Reference Lab status from ThermoFisher. This industry recognition of my research ensures we have pre-commercial launch access to novel chemistries and we act as a beta test site for new technology platforms and analysis kits. My research focuses on elucidating the underlying mechanisms of human disease with a focus on cancer and metastasis of solid tumors. This work is translated into novel assays for better diagnosis and prognostication of patients' disease. I have made seminal discoveries into the pathobiology of cancers including thyroid and cervix, which have resulted in major changes to the way patients are treated. I am a founder member of several international consortia working to establish novel sequencing technologies as routine diagnostic testing regimens in clinical laboratories. My research has been published in international journals at the highest levels and has been incorporated into fundamental pathology textbooks. My research continues to enhance TCD's reputation as an international force in cancer research. The international significance of my research is recognized by invitations to deliver plenary and keynote addresses at leading conferences in Pathology and Human Genetics. Additional transformational significance has seen Trinity College affiliated St James's Hospital become Ireland's first accredited Cancer Diagnostics Laboratory. My position within the Department of Histopathology means that I have an understanding of the diagnostic and prognostic deficiencies within current clinical practice and many of the research innovations made under my supervision have been geared towards enhanced service delivery. Thus there is a spectrum of research in which I am involved from basic science to more translational research with direct application in the clinical setting. My work in early cancer diagnostics and theranostics is recognised globally and has made tangible differences in the way patients are managed. The translation of basic research to clinically relevant assays has had an industry disruptive and transformative influence on molecular diagnostics. I have positioned myself for leadership by building an infrastructure within and outwith of TCD that is unique to the College ecosystem and from which TCD continues to make a real difference in people's lives who are affected by cancer. My translational research positions us to lead cancer related diagnostics in Ireland and beyond. This research will form the bedrock of service provision and interdisciplinary innovation that are central to the aspirations of the newly proposed Cancer Institute at the SJH site. In Summary, my research has led to discoveries highlighting pivotal mutations in cancers and directly influencing improved treatment of patients. In essence my research has been the difference between life or death for many patients.