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About David Hill

Dr. David Hill is the director of the Lawson Health Research Institute, researching the development of insulin-producing beta cells, studying growth factors and development in animal models in the context of possible therapy targets for gestational, Type 1, and Type 2 Diabetes.

Asset Map Keywords: Diabetes, Islet Biology, and Growth Factors --> (see more)
Children's Health Collaborators: Edith Arany and Victor Han

A secondary aspect of Dr. Hill's work involves environmental factors, understanding how variables such as low birth weight and nutrition factor into the development of later life diabetes.


Biography
Dr. David Hill holds the Lawson Professorship in Diabetes Research and is a Professor in the Departments of Medicine, Physiology & Pharmacology and Paediatrics, at Western University.  He is Scientific Director of Lawson Health Research Institute and the Integrated Vice President, Research for London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care London.

Educated at the University of Nottingham and at Worcester College, University of Oxford, he has published over 200 scientific papers and maintains an active program in diabetes research and stem cell biology. He is a recipient of the CDA’s Frederick G. Banting Award, as well as of the Medal of the Society for Endocrinology from the UK.  Dr. Hill was inducted as a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS) in 2011.

Dr. Hill’s research centres on the generation of new insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas as a strategy for the reversal of diabetes

Professional and Academic Experience
Current administrative and leadership contributions include service as Co-Chair of the Committee of VPs Research and an elected Director on the National Board of Directors of HealthCareCAN. HealthCareCAN represents all academic hospital and regional health care providers in Canada and functions as a national advocacy group, particularly with the Government of Canada. Dr. Hill also serves on the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO) as Chair of the Research Hospitals Strategic Task Forces with a mandate to sustain hospital-based research across the Province. He was recently elected to the National Board of Directors of Research Canada. As Scientific Director of Lawson Health Research Institute he represents researchers on a number of local Western and Schulich committees.  

Research Interest Area: Diabetes; Metabolism; Obesity

Research Overview
Research published in 2016 has identified a population of progenitor cells within the pancreas of mice and human that can give rise to new insulin-producing cells in vitro. These were not predominantly located in situ within the mature islets of Langerhans, but in small clusters of endocrine cells throughout the pancreas. The total number of progenitor cells was high in early life but declined with age. This suggests that progenitor cells with the potential to become insulin-producing cells exist throughout life and may represent a source of β-cell plasticity to reverse diabetes.  As a step towards mobilizing these cells we have examined the ability of grafted bone marrow-derived stem cells to reverse diabetes in mice. Marrow-derived cells migrated to the diabetic pancreas and specifically activated progenitor beta cell proliferation.

We completed in 2016 a Pan-European clinical trial for the prevention of gestational diabetes.  We are now following up both women and their offspring from the previous study to determine the extent to which interventions in pregnancy alter the development of subsequent type 2 diabetes in the mothers, and the development of obesity and glucose intolerance in the offspring. 

Keywords: Developmental Biology, Diabetes, Pancreatic Islets, Peptide Growth Factors, Stem Cells, Pediatrics, Endocrine Cell Development


A major research theme is the hormonal control of growth and development, with a particular interest in the prenatal human. Recent studies have examined the ontogeny of expression, cellular location, and mechanism of action of peptide growth factors such as the insulinlike growth factors, fibroblast growth factors and transforming growth factor beta in the sheep, rat and human embryo or fetus. Particular interest has been taken in the interactions of endocrine hormones, such as growth hormone, placental lactogen and insulin, with the paracrine expression of growth factors, and nutritional availability and utilization during early growth. Studies utilize the tissue culture of animal and human connective tissue cell types, including myoblasts, fibroblasts and chondrocytes, hepatocytes, and isolated pancreatic islets of Langerhans. Hormone presence and action are investigated at the level of MRNA expression, peptide synthesis and release, receptorkinetics and cellular anabolic response.


Dr. Hill is Scientific Director of the Lawson Health Research Institute (Lawson), one of Canada’s largest hospital-sponsored research institutes. He holds the Lawson Professorship in Diabetes Research, and the Weinstein Chair for Diabetes Research, and is a Professor in the Departments of Medicine, Physiology and Paediatrics, at Western University. Educated at the University of Nottingham and at Worcester College, University of Oxford, he has published over 200 scientific papers and maintains an active program in diabetes research and stem cell biology. Dr. Hill has previously served as Chair for both Research Canada and the National Board of the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA). He is a recipient of the CDA’s Frederick G. Banting Award, as well as of the Medal of the Society for Endocrinology from the UK. Dr. Hill is a member and Past Board Chair of the Diabetic Pregnancy Study Group (DPSG), an affiliate of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. He also currently participates on the Research Committee of the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO) and is Co-Chair of the Association of Canadian Academic Healthcare Organizations’ (ACAHO) Sub-Committee of VPs of Research. In 2011, Dr. Hill was inducted as a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS).

Dr. Hill’s research centres on the generation of new insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas as a strategy for the reversal of diabetes. Currently, Dr. Hill is researching the ability to manipulate stem cells to become beta cells, which could increase the supply of tissue available for human islet transplantation in those suffering from type 1diabetes, but also the possibility of inducing targeted regeneration of new beta cells within the pancreas removing the need for transplantation. Other projects include looking at the linkage of low birth weight to an increased risk of diabetes in later life, and the ways in which environmental factors, such as nutrition might trigger or protect against diabetes.

Positions

Present Associate Scientist, Lawson Health Research Institute ‐ Children's Health Research Institute (CHRI)
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Present Professor, Western University Department of Medicine
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Present Professor, Western University Department of Physiology and Pharmacology
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Present Scientific Director, Lawson Health Research Institute ‐ Lawson
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Disciplines



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