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Biotech Expert Joins Health-Science Faculty

Biotech Expert Joins Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

A Kiwi biotech expert, who was named London ’s Young Biotechnology Entrepreneur of the Year in 2002, has returned home to New Zealand to join The University of Auckland’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. Peter Shepherd, who is renowned for his diabetes research, has been appointed Professor of Cell Signalling.

Professor Shepherd’s research has focused on understanding how insulin regulates the highly complex pathways that control the function of cells and how defects in these pathways lead to the development of insulin resistance and type II diabetes.

“I have developed an interest in understanding the molecular mechanisms responsible for the increased rate of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) seen in obesity and diabetes. This is a major cause of premature death in diabetics but is still poorly understood at the molecular level.”

Professor Shepherd also founded two biotechnology companies in the UK and brings back to New Zealand a wealth of experience in management and venture capital fundraising in the biotech sector.

Dean of Medical and Health Sciences Professor Peter Smith says the Faculty is delighted to attract a world class researcher of Professor Shepherd’s stature.

“Professor Shepherd has led many breakthroughs in diabetes research and we are privileged to have him join our Faculty. His experience as an investigator and a biotech entrepreneur epitomises the new breed of researchers who are just as much a part of industry and the community as they are of academia,” says Professor Smith.

Professor Shepherd, who is originally from Kaitaia, spent the last fifteen years at prestigious institutions in the US and UK in various positions, most recently as Professor in Signal Transduction at University College London. He has also completed postdoctoral research fellowships at Harvard Medical School , and Cambridge University .

He has held grants from private and public sector organisations, including the British Diabetic Association, British Heart Foundation, UK Medical Research Council, SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals, University College London Clinical Research Network, Xcellsyz Ltd, Aventis Pharma, Wellcome Trust and Diabetes UK .

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