Assoc Dean of Research and Professor in Reproductive Science, Obstetrics and Gynaecology
The University of Auckland, School of Medicine. View profile HERE
Professor Shelling is head of the Medical Genetics Group. His research is primarily interested in understanding the molecular changes that occur during the development of genetic disorders, focusing on breast and ovarian cancer, and reproductive disorders. An understanding of the important changes will eventually provide an opportunity to improve the early detection of disease, and to target more effective treatment.
Andrew is extensively involved in teaching reproduction, genetics and cancer at the University of Auckland.
Andrew began at Otago University with a degree in Physical Education, and BSc (Hons) and PhD in Biochemistry. He was awarded the Nuffield Medical Fellowship in 1992, and spent three years in Oxford, UK, studying the genetics of ovarian cancer, before being appointed to Auckland University as a Lecturer. Andrew has served as Deputy Head of Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, President of the New Zealand branch of the Human Genetics Society of Australasia, Deputy-Chairperson of the Advisory Committee for Assisted Reproductive Technologies and as Associate Editor for the Human Reproduction journal. He is currently Director of the Bachelor of Medical Sciences Honours programme, on the Editorial Board for the Human Fertility journal and is a Trustee for the Nurture Foundation for Reproductive Research.
Andrew has been the Associate Dean (Research) at the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences since 2013.
Research supported by Breast Cancer Cure: View HERE
Andrew has worked in one the world’s leading research laboratories in Oxford, at the Institute of Molecular Medicine, on the genetics of ovarian cancer. During his three years in Oxford, he was able to experience scientific research at the highest level, and to teach medical students at the prestigious Christ Church College, Oxford University, before returning back to Auckland to establish his own research laboratory,
Andrew has served as Deputy Head of Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (2001-2013), President of the New Zealand branch of the Human Genetics Society of Australasia (2002-2004), Deputy-Chairperson of the Advisory Committee for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (2006-2012), Director of the Bachelor of Medical Sciences Honours programme (2008-2016) and as Associate Editor for the Human Reproduction journal (2004-2013). Andrew is currently the Associate Dean (Research), Associate Dean (Performance Based Research Fund), on the Editorial Board for the Human Fertility journal and the Clinical Genetics journal, and is a Trustee for the Nurture Foundation for Reproductive Research.
Andrew completed his PhD in 1992 at the University of Otago. His research for this focused on the development of viral vectors for use in gene therapy.
In 1992 he received the prestigious Nuffield Medical Fellowship to study at the Institute of Molecular Medicine at Oxford for three years, where he worked on the genetics of ovarian cancer. During this time he also taught at Christ Church College, Oxford.
In 1995 he returned to New Zealand to take up his current position at the University of Auckland.
Radio interview with Kim Hill: ‘Making babies: You, me and gene editing?’, 24 September 2017. Listen HERE
Video: Professor Andrew Shelling’s Inaugural Lecture 2015 on ‘A genetic diagnosis of Professor’. View HERE
“My biggest problem is lack of focus. My world consists of genetics, reproduction, cancer. I have always dabbled in too many things, and it is very hard to keep up date with everything. I have had many great projects and partnerships.”
“Underlying every human disease is a mixture of genetics and environmental factors. Some things are purely inherited, and some things are purely environment, but it is the interaction of the two that brings about disease.”
Video: ‘Do you understand the new genetics? Maybe you don’t have that gene!’
“A lot of the new genetics is fantastic. It has made a huge difference to people’s lives. We are able to identify mutations in individuals and say ‘something might happen to you in the future’. This has revolutionised the lives of many people who have been captured by a death threat that runs through their family. We can test their genes and tell them either “yes you have a high risk of developing cancer”, or “no you have only a normal risk”.
What has happened in the last 2 decades is we have moved from that hard science to something that is more woolly and fluffy, with diseases that are more life-style related. Some diseases have a family tendency – not guaranteed but weakly in the family. New technologies have found consistent changes in genes that predispose some people to developing a condition. It is not one gene, but dozens of genes, and a lot of environment. It is very hard to get across to people because we are talking about risk, and nobody understands risk very well. The messages are the same about healthy eating, green vegetables, less smoking.”