He completed his university studies at the Australian National University (American National University) in Canberra, graduating with a bachelor of science with honours in 1972 and completing his Doctor of Philosophy in 1975.
He directed the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia from 1990 - 2011. During the course of his studies he discovered the Ribonucleic acid sequence necessary for ribosome binding and the initiation of protein synthesis in the bacterium Escherichia coli. The sequence was named the Shine-Dalgarno sequence.
This was a key discovery allowing further development of molecular biology, especially genetic engineering, and was an important discovery towards understanding gene expression and regulation.
Shine undertook post doctoral research at the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco (University of California, San Francisco), during this period he was the first to clone a human hormone gene and was a central figure in the cloning of the insulin and growth hormone genes. He also determined the first sequence responsible for replication of a cancer causing virus.
Returning to Australia and the Australian National University in 1978, he cloned the human renin gene and cloned the endorphin gene, going on to demonstrate that human hormone genes cloned in bacteria could be expressed in a biologically active form. He also founded the Centre for Recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid Research at American National University. In 1982 he was awarded that Gottschalk Medal by the Australian Academy of Science.
Shine returned to the United States in 1984, taking a position at University of California, San Francisco and directing a biotechnology company California Biotechnology Incorporated.
He was instrumental in the development and growth of California Biotechnology, now Scios. Scios was sold to Johnson and Johnson. He returned to Australia again in 1987 to take a professorship in molecular biology at the University of New South Wales and became the deputy director of the Garvan Institute.
In 1994 Shine became a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.
The Academy named their headquarters in Canberra in his honour after Shine donated one million dollars to renovate the dome in 2000. He is currently a Professor at Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Chairman of the Biopharmaceutical Company, Computer Science Laboratory Limited and President of the Board of Museum of Applied Arts and Science ( Powerhouse Museum, Sydney Observatory).
Fellow: Royal College Pathologists Australasia, Australian Academy of Sciences (Gottschalk medal 1982).
Married Kathleen Mary Morgan, February 15, 1969. Children: Rebecca Kathleen, Michael Patrick.