Trevor Shepherd

Associate ScientistTrevor Shepherd
London Regional Cancer Program
Western University
519-685-8500 ext 56347  




Trevor Shepherd obtained his undergraduate degree from The University of Western Ontario Honours Genetics Program in 1995 before going on to perform graduate studies with Dr. John Hassell at McMaster University. For his PhD, he studied the function of the PEA3 subfamily of Ets transcription factors in breast cancer using transgenic mouse models in collaboration with Dr. Bill Muller. After completing his PhD degree in 2002, he switched to studying ovarian cancer with Dr. Mark Nachtigal at Dalhousie University where he initiated his work with patient-derived primary cell culture techniques. He was recruited back to Southwestern Ontario in 2007 as an Assistant Professor in Ob/Gyn, Oncology and Anatomy & Cell Biology at Western University and a Translational Oncology Scientist at the London Regional Cancer Program. His work of his team within the Mary & John Knight Translational Ovarian Cancer Research Unit has focused on developing an in vitro model of ovarian cancer tumour growth and metastasis to investigate altered pathobiology and how these malignant changes can be targeted therapeutically. His work is currently supported by the Cancer Research Society, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Ovarian Cancer Canada and Health Canada.

The Shepherd laboratory has focused its research activity to understand mechanisms controlling ovarian tumour dormancy during specific steps of metastasis as modeled in 3D spheroid culture using patient-derived cells and more recently patient-derived organoids. AKT activity is down-regulated during spheroid formation and this initiates a dormant phenotype to promote survival by regulating cellular quiescence and autophagy. Further to this, his group has made new discoveries implicating differential autophagy regulation by the ULK1 and AMPK complexes in EOC spheroids. In their most recent reports, they demonstrated that stress responses in EOC spheroids are mediated by LKB1 and its downstream kinase NUAK1 to promote ovarian cancer cell survival and cell adhesion during metastasis. Current research efforts are to derive and test novel therapeutics that target these essential enzymes controlling ovarian cancer cell viability under bioenergetic stress conditions during metastasis.

Shepherd has made many contributions to the ovarian cancer research community in Canada. He was co-chair of the 2016 8th Biennial Canadian Conference on Ovarian Cancer Research (CCOCR) that took place in Niagara Falls and serves as a National Advisory Committee member for CCOCR. He has on-going collaborations with investigators at University of Guelph, Princess Margaret Hospital Living Biobank, McGill University, and UBC to develop patient-derived models to be shared amongst Canadian researchers for therapeutics applications. He participated with Ovarian Cancer Canada for several years to lobby the federal government for a $10M investment to support the OvCAN initiative, and serves as a member of the 3D models working group for OvCAN.