Orla Sheils

Professor of Molecular Pathology, Trinity College Dublin

Molecular Biology

The underlying theme of my 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.  Improving the outlook for cancer  patients can only come from an understanding of molecular and cell biology. There has been a dramatic increase in knowledge of the molecular genetics of cancers over the last few years and already we have reached the point where this can be translated into clinical application. Translational research remains a common theme throughout my research, linking identification of disease processes with targets for early disease detection or classification. My group adopts a translational approach in applying their knowledge to improve disease prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment. In addition to transcriptomics, I have published extensively in the non-coding RNA field and have broad experience describing microRNA profiles associated with discrete disease conditions. More recently, I have begun to explore the roles of sno- and piwi- RNA families in the pathobiology of tumour formation. I am involved in developing methods to detect circulating tumour cells (CTCs) and in profiling Cancer Stem Cells. I am a member of the OncoNetwork consortium – which comprises a European network of scientists and physicians whose remit is to develop diagnostic and prognostic molecular markers for lung and colorectal cancers. I am a founder member of the “Early Cancer Detection Consortium” which is working towards developing screening algorithms based on molecular profiling. I have been responsible for the procurement of grants valued in excess of €30M during this time from national funding agencies such as S.F.I., HRB, ICS and HEA in addition to industrial support from Life Technologies (Applied Biosystems/Ambion/Invitrogen), Affymetrix and Vysis. I have in excess of 80 peer reviewed publications.