Born in Cork, Ireland, David Sheehan was educated at University College Cork in Ireland (BSc First Class Hons in Biochemistry, 1980) and Trinity College Dublin (PhD in Biochemistry, 1985). After holding several positions in the biotechnology and food industries in Ireland, the US and UK, he became a lecturer in Biochemistry at University College Cork in 1989. He was promoted to senior lecturer in 2001 and professor in 2007.
He was awarded one of the first President’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching in 2002 and holds a Higher Diploma in Teaching and Learning (2005). He was shortlisted for a Whartons-QS Stars Award in Teaching and Learning in Philadelphia in 2016 for his innovative approaches to teaching protein structure. David directed the MSc (Biotechnology) from 1997-2004 and, from 2013-2016, was Head of the School of Biochemistry & Cell Biology at UCC. He became Founding Dean of the College of Science at Khalifa University in Jan 2017. He has published more than 160 research papers with a Scopus h-index of 40. He also published three books including two editions of his sole-author textbook Physical Biochemistry: Principles and Applications (Wileys). He was awarded an advanced doctorate DSc for his published work by the National University of Ireland in 2009 and is listed in Stanford University’s listing of top 2% most cited authors worldwide. He is an expert on proteins and environmental toxicology and current research focuses on interactions between nanoparticles and biological systems.
Nanoparticles as novel nucleation agents in protein crystallization. Only 3% of human proteins are of known structure. X-ray crystallography is a workhorse method for such determinations. More than 80% of entries in the Protein Database come from X-ray diffraction. The least reproducible step in Crystallography is obtaining of usable protein crystals. This usually requires sparse matrix sampling of multiple chemical conditions (thousands to tens of thousands). We have developed a novel screen of approx 200 conditions containing gold nanoparticles which gives diffraction quality crystals in a short time. With a panel of 15 unrelated proteins, we were successful in 14 cases. This is the basis of a US and UAE patent and a start-up company called Proscreenix.
Yeast grows well in the presence of a weak static magnetic field. Earlier work showed that yeast experiences oxidative stress in such circumstances. If we collect the culture medium (cell-free) and add silver nitrate, small nanoparticles result. We are exploring this approach with other metals and assessing the properties of resulting nanoparticles.
Supervised 19 PhDs and 20 MScs to grauation. External examiner for more than 26 PhD theses worldwide.