David J. Hill

Donglin Bai


BSc University of Nottingham
DPhil University of Oxford 
Post-Doctoral Fellowship University of Shefflied

Office:  Lawson Research Institute, Room 406 
p. 519.646.6100 x. 64716
e.  david.hill@lawsonresearch.com 


Why Science (or Why Research)?
Passion for science began in his undergraduate career, where Dr. Hill studied Zoology at the University of Nottingham. Dr. Hill really enjoyed the anatomical side of zoology and developed a passion for studying anatomical drawings of various animals. Dr. Hill found it interesting and satisfying to study the form of different animals and various similarities between animals, from mammals to amphibians. Discovering the similarities between such diverse animals ignited and aided in the development of his interest in developmental biology. After his undergrad, Dr. Hill worked with various mentors during his PhD at the University of Oxford in orthopedic surgery. His research involved bones, and Dr. Hill soon became fascinated by the anatomy of the skeleton. During his PhD, Dr. Hill investigated the biochemistry of various hormones and growth factors involved in bone growth and development. From there, he completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Sheffield in the pediatrics department, still looking at developmental biology, interested in discovering what regulates growth of the embryo and the fetus, in addition to the action of various growth factors and the role of insulin in development. Dr. Hill’s journey in science was a road that was influenced by various mentors within the scientific community. Finally, Dr. Hill moved to Canada in 1988 to become a professor.

Research Goals:
My research goals are concentrated into two areas of interest. I wish to understand the biology of the pancreas and the regulation of insulin release. I wish to further elucidate the mechanisms by which the number of insulin-producing cells are regulated. By learning and understanding the mechanisms under which insulin-producing cells arise and increase in number, strategies for reversing diabetes may be determined. I am also a part of a pan-European clinical research group, looking at clinical trials to help prevent gestational diabetes for women at risk.

Some experimental approaches used at my lab include looking at the production and identification of new proteins that affect the growth of insulin-producing cells or their function. We use immunohistochemistry, measure RNA levels for various molecules via quantitative polymerase chain reaction, hormone and ELISA assays, and we have recently begun to use single cell RNA seq to look at whole genome arrays within single cells of the pancreas.

Specific Research Interests:
1.  Hormonal control of the growth and development of the prenatal human
2.  The interaction between various endocrine hormones with the paracrine expression of growth factors. 

Undergraduate Teaching:

Fetal Physiology 4700B
Physiology 4980

Most Rewarding Moments:
What I enjoy most about being a scientist is that I am able to work alongside various talented individuals from all over the world. I find it extremely rewarding to have various minds all working on different aspects of one study, and I enjoy seeing how the parts fit together to tell a complete story. When working with other scientists internationally, it is a refreshing experience to come together to work on the same project and enjoy the differences in culture. As a scientist, I find it enjoyable to learn from other scientists and discover how they approach problems and work.

Advice to Students:
Find a research area that you find fascinating so that when you wake up in the morning, you cannot wait to begin to answer a question that has really grabbed a hold of you. Oftentimes, you may need to start a project before realizing how interesting it can be. Once the excitement of science catches you, it is addictive, and you cannot wait to investigate and discover the answer. Once you catch the buzz, there is nothing better than being a scientist.

Interests Outside of Academia:
I enjoy travelling when I am given the opportunity, visiting different places and meeting scientists from other countries. To get the opportunity to associate with people from other countries socially was a gift that science was able to give me.

I also enjoy catching up and watching soccer on Saturdays. I am an avid fan and follow many European teams!

Awards and Recognitions


Jørgen Pedersen Medal Award, Diabetic Pregnancy Study Group of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD)

Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences
Banting Award of Diabetes Canada for contributions to the understanding and prevention of diabetes
Award of Distinction for Advocacy in Health Research, Research Canada
2006 Department of Medicine Research Award of Excellence, University of Western Ontario
2004 Partners in Research Scientific Ambassador Award
1997 Dean’s Award for Excellencefor Research, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario
Medal of the Society for Endocrinology, UK

Selected Publications:
Lima, R.A., Desoye, G., Simmons, D., Devlieger, R., Galjaard, S., Corcoy, R., Adelantado, J.A., Dunne, F., Harreiter, J., Kautzky-Willer, A., Damm, P., Mathiesen, E.R., Jensen, D.M., Andersen, L.T., Tanvig, M., Lapolla, A., Dalfra, M.G., Bertolotto, A., Manta, U., Wender-Ozegowska, E., Zawiejska, A., Hill, D.J., Snoek, F.J., Jelsma, J.G.M. and van Poppel, M. (2021) The importance of maternal insulin resistance throughout pregnancy on neonatal adiposity. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology 35:83–91.

Szlapinski, S.K., Bennett, J., Strutt, B.J. and Hill D.J. (2020) The increased alpha and beta cell mass during mouse pregnancy is not dependent on transdifferentiation. Experimental Biology and Medicine 0:1–12. doi: 10.1177/1535370220972686.

Szlapinski, S.K., Botros, A.A., Donegan, S., King, R.T., Retta, G., Strutt, B.J. and Hill, D.J. (2020) Altered postpartum pancreas remodeling following glucose intolerance in pregnancy in mouse. Journal of Endocrinology 245:315-326.

Szlapinski, S., King, R.T., Retta, G., Yeo, E., Strutt, B.J. and Hill, D.J.  (2019) A mouse model of gestational glucose intolerance through exposure to a low protein diet during fetal and neonatal development. Journal of Physiology 597:4237–4250.

King, R., Hill, J., Saha, B., Tong, Y., Strutt, B.J., Russell, M.A. Morgan, N.G. Richardson, S.J. and Hill, D.J. (2019) Offspring of mice exposed to a low protein diet in utero demonstrate changes in mTOR signaling in pancreatic islets of Langerhans, associated with altered glucagon and insulin expression and a lower -cell mass. Nutrients 11: E605. doi:10.3390/nu11030605

Arany, E.J., Waseem. M., Strutt, B.J., Chamson-Reig, A., Bernardo, A., Eng, E. and Hill, D.J. (2018) Direct comparison of the abilities of bone marrow mesenchymal versus hematopoietic stem cells to reverse hyperglycemia in diabetic NOD.SCID mice. Islets 10:137-150.