Dr Joanna Shepherd

BSc., M.Med.Sci., PhD., AFHEA

School of Clinical Dentistry

Non-Clinical Lecturer in Oral Microbiology

+44 114 215 9412

Full contact details

Dr Joanna Shepherd
School of Clinical Dentistry
19 Claremont Crescent
S10 2TA

After graduating from Leeds University in 1995 with a BSc. in Microbiology, and the University of Sheffield with an M.Med.Sci. degree in Microbial Pathogenicity, I completed my PhD at the University of Sheffield in 2002. I then moved to Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA, to work for Prof. Peter Libby developing near infra red in vivo molecular probes. I returned to the University of Sheffield in 2007 as a PDRA, where I developed a 3D model of infected tissue engineered human skin, subsequently used in several further studies. I took up my first academic post as a Senior Lecturer in the Biomedical Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University in 2014. I was appointed to my current post in April 2015

The global rise in antibiotic resistance means there is an absolute requirement for novel or repurposed antimicrobial therapies. I am interested in the use of alternative methods such as ultrasound, both as an antimicrobial treatment and as a co-treatment in maximising the efficiency of antibiotic use. I am also interested in biofilms and their development, and host-pathogen interactions, using 3D tissue engineered models to examine effects of infection and treatment (including novel wound dressings and bacteria-sensitive polymers) on both bacteria and human cells.

Research interests
  • The use of low frequency ultrasound as antibacterial therapy in a tissue engineered model of skin infection (PhD student Guma Beleid, co-supervised with Dr Prachi Stafford and Dr Keith Miller, Sheffield Hallam University)
  • Development of bacteria sensitive hyperbranched polymers (with Prof. Sheila MacNeil, Prof. Ian Douglas and Prof. Steve Rimmer, co-supervisor of PhD student Pavintorn Teratanatorn)
  • Development of a novel electrospun antimicrobial wound dressing (in collaboration with Dr Ilida Ortega Asencio) funded by SHAMROK
  • Development of a novel therapeutic device in collaboration with and funded by Smith & Nephew
  • Effects of acoustic vibration on bacterial biofilm growth and formation, in collaboration with Dr Mark Murphy, Liverpool John Moores University
  • Novel slow-release antimicrobial wound dressing funded by the MRC CiC scheme in collaboration with Prof Neil Bricklebank and team, Sheffield Hallam University
  • MOZART, involving 8 different countries and 11 partners. Development of a library of inorganic nanomatrices to be used as smart platforms for effective, non-invasive and highly targeted therapies to treat delayed bone healing and non-healing chronic skin wounds. With Prof Sheila MacNeilProf Ian Douglas and Dr Anthony BullockFunded by Horizon 2020

Journal articles


PhD students:

  • Mr Guma Beleid (co-supervised with Dr Keith Miller & Dr Christine LeMaitre, Sheffield Hallam University. “The use of low frequency ultrasound to reduce bacterial burden in infected skin models”
  • Miss Pavintorn Teratanatorn(co-supervised with Prof. Ian Douglas & Prof. Steve Rimmer (University of Bradford) “Binding of bacteria to highly branched poly (N- isopropylacrylamide) modified with antibiotics: Comparison of behaviour of linear and highly branched polymers in presence of Staphylococcus aureus and development of detection systems”

Postdoctoral Researchers:

  • Dr Toby Holmes – development of a novel wound healing and anti-biofilm device (funded by Smith & Nephew)
  • Dr Natalya Doroshenko - characterization of bacteria-binding polymers for use in ocular infections (funded by MRC/DBT)
  • Dr Patrick Harrison – efficacy of a novel antimicrobial wound dressing (funded by MRC CiC)
  • 2 x PDRAs to be appointed to work on i) low frequency ultrasound as a therapy for intracellular pathogens and ii) antimicrobial activity of ions released to wounds (funded by SHAMROK and Horizon 2020)

Current Research Grants (total ~£4.2m)

  • DBT-MRC Joint Centre Partnership. Garg P, Rimmer S, Douglas I, Shepherd J, MacNeil S, Foster S. “UK-India Centre for Advanced Technology for Minimising Indiscriminate Use of Antibiotics”. 28/04/15 – 28/04/18 (£1,153490)
  • Horizon 2020 EU award. Led by Prof Chiara Vitale-Brovarone (Torino). MesopOrous matrices for localiZed pH triggered releAse of theRapeuTic ions and drugs – MOZART. 01/11/2015 – 31/10/2019.  €4million (approx. £2,787,180)
  • Smith & Nephew. J Shepherd, C Murdoch, I Douglas, T Holmes, S MacNeil. 25/01/2015 – 31/12/2017 (£215,606).
  • MRC Confidence in Concept. Bricklebank N, Miller K, Shepherd J, Breen C, Clegg F, Freeman-Parry L. “IN-CROWD - Cytotoxicity end efficacy of a novel slow release wound dressing”. 21/11/16-21/5/2017 (£43,157)
  • SHAMROK. Shepherd J, Dwyer-Joyce R, Hearnden V. "Ultrasound as an antibiotic-free method to combat chronic intracellular infection" 1/5/2017 – 1/8/2017 (£29,958)
Teaching activities

I currently teach Oral Microbiology on the following modules:

  • DEN Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy
  • DEN303/4 Integrated Human Disease
  • DEN503/4 Dental Surgery
  • 4th year BDS
  • DEN603 Current Concepts in Dentistry (Masters)
  • Module lead: M.Med.Sci. in Diagnostic Oral Pathology, ORP6021 (Dissertation Module)
Professional activities
  • Member of Tissue & Cell Engineering Society (TCES), Society for Applied Microbiology (SfAM) and the Oral Microbiology and Immunology Group (OMIG, part of BSODR)
  • STEM ambassador
  • Member of the Florey Institute for host-pathogen interactions
  • Invited peer reviewer for journals (Tissue Engineering, British Dental Journal, J Periodontology etc.)
  • Pool reviewer for British Council Newton Fund
  • Invited grant reviewer for ESRC
  • Textbook reviewer for Oxford University Press
  • Member of SfAM Policy Subcommittee