Professor Doug Hilton AO

Past Director


I am a biologist investigating blood cell production and function, and how cells communicate with each other. The goal of my research is to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of blood and immune disorders such as blood cancers, arthritis and asthma. My team is multidisciplinary, with a range of skills including bioinformatics, cell biology and protein chemistry, and we collaborate widely within and beyond WEHI.

To translate my research to better health care, I have patented key discoveries and worked closely with biopharmaceutical companies like CSL and venture capitalists like Starfish.

As WEHI’s sixth director, my priorities have included:

  • Overseeing the expansion of WEHI and ensuring the alignment of its research with the most important health concerns of our community
  • Building the clinical translation capacity of WEHI including the establishment of the National Drug Discovery Centre, and strengthening WEHI’s collaborative links with other health, research and education organisations
  • Providing WEHI’s scientists with access to the latest technologies that will advance their research, including establishing the Centre for Dynamic Imaging
  • Ensuring WEHI has a culture that provides opportunities for all its people to flourish professionally and personally, including leading initiatives to boost gender equality and diversity, and establishing the Professor Lynn Corcoran Early Learning Centre
  • Ensuring the impact of WEHI’s research is sustained in the long-term, including through support for younger research leaders, prudent financial management.
  • Promoting and advocating for health and medical research with the community, their elected representatives at a local, state and federal level and with philanthropic organisations.

I am also the Lorenzo and Pamela Galli Chair in Medical Biology and head of the Department of Medical Biology in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne.


Selected publications from Professor Doug Hilton AO

Gearing DP, Gough NM, King JA, HILTON DJ, Nicola NA, Simpson RJ, Nice EC, Kelso A, Metcalf D. Molecular cloning and expression of cDNA encoding a murine myeloid leukemia-inhibitory factor (LIF). EMBO J 6: 3995-4002, 1987. PMID: 3127201

HILTON DJ, Nicola NA, Metcalf D. Purification of a murine leukemia inhibitory factor from Krebs Ascites cells. Anal Biochem 173: 359-67, 1988. PMID: 3142300

HILTON DJ, Nicola NA, Metcalf D. Specific binding of murine leukemia inhibitory factor to normal and leukemic monocytic cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 85: 5971-5, 1988. PMID: 3137563

Williams RL, HILTON DJ, Pease S, Willson TA, Stewart CL, Gearing DP, Wagner EF, Metcalf D, Nicola NA, Gough NM. Myeloid leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) maintains the developmental potential of embryonic stem cells. Nature 336: 684-7, 1988. PMID: 3143916

HILTON DJ, Hilton AA, Raicevic A, Rakar S, Harrison-Smith M, Gough NM, Begley CG, Metcalf D, Nicola NA, Willson TA. Cloning of a murine IL-11 receptor alpha chain; requirement of gp130 for high affinity binding and signal transduction. EMBO J 13: 4765-75, 1994. PMID: 7957045

HILTON DJ, Watowich SS, Murray PJ, Lodish HF. Increased cell surface expression and enhanced folding in the endoplasmic reticulum of a mutant erythropoietin receptor. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 92: 190-4, 1995. PMID: 7816815

HILTON DJ, Zhang J-G, Metcalf D, Alexander W, Nicola NA, Willson TA. Cloning and characterization of a binding subunit of the interleukin-13 receptor that is also a component of the interleukin-4 receptor. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 93: 497-501, 1996. PMID: 8552669

Starr R, Willson TA, Viney EM, Murray LJL, Rayner JR, Jenkins BJ, Gonda TJ, Alexander WS, Metcalf D, Nicola NA, HILTON DJ. A family of cytokine-inducible inhibitors of signalling. Nature 387: 917-21, 1997. PMID: 9202125

HILTON DJ, Richardson RT, Alexander WS, Viney EM, Willson TA, Sprigg NS, Starr R, Nicholson SE, Metcalf D, Nicola NA. Twenty proteins containing a C-terminal SOCS box form five structural classes. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 95: 114-9, 1998. PMID: 9419338

Alexander WS, Starr R, Fenner JE, Scott CL, Handman E, Sprigg NS, Corbin JE, Cornish AL, Darwiche R, Owczarek CM, Kay TWH, Nicola NA, Hertzog PJ, Metcalf D, HILTON DJ. SOCS1 is a critical inhibitor of interferon gamma signalling and prevents the potentially fatal neonatal actions of this cytokine. Cell 98: 597-608, 1999. PMID: 10490099

Zhang J-G, Farley A, Nicholson SE, Willson TA, Zugaro LM, Simpson, RJ, Moritz RL, Cary D, Richardson R, Hausmann G, Kile BT, Kent SBH, Alexander WS, Metcalf D, HILTON DJ, Nicola NA, Baca M. The conserved SOCS box motif in suppressors of cytokine signalling binds to elongins B and C and may couple proteins to proteasomal degradation. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 96: 2071-6, 1999. PMID: 10051596

Metcalf D, Greenhalgh CJ, Viney E, Willson T, Nicola NA, HILTON DJ, Alexander WS. Gigantism in mice lacking suppressor of cytokine signaling-2. Nature 405: 1069-73, 2000. PMID: 10890450

Kile BT, Schulman BA, Alexander WS, Nicola NA, Martin HME, HILTON DJ. The SOCS box: a tale of destruction and degradation. Trends Biochem Sci 27: 235-41, 2002. PMID: 12076535

Carpinelli MR*, HILTON DJ*, Metcalf D, Antonchuk JL, Hyland CD, Mifsud SL, Di Rago L, Hilton AA, Willson TA, Roberts AW, Ramsay RG, Nicola NA, Alexander WS. Suppressor screen in Mpl-/- mice: c-Myb mutation causes supraphysiological production of platelets in the absence of thrombopoietin signaling. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 101: 6553-8, 2004 (* joint first authors). PMID: 15071178

Alexander WS and HILTON DJ. The role of suppressors of cytokine signaling (SOCS) proteins in regulation of the immune response. Ann Rev Immunol 22: 503-29, 2004. PMID: 15032587

Loughran SJ, Kruse EA, Hacking DF, de Graaf CA, Hyland CD, Willson TA, Henley KJ, Ellis S, Voss AK, Metcalf D, HILTON DJ*, Alexander WS*, Kile BT.* The transcription factor Erg is essential for definitive hematopoiesis and the function of adult hematopoietic stem cells. Nat Immunol 9: 810-819, 2008 (* joint senior authors). PMID: 18500345

Blewitt ME, Gendrel AV, Pang Z, Sparrow DB, Whitelaw N, Craig JM, Apedaile A, Hilton DJ, Dunwoodie SL, Brockdorff N, Kay GF, Whitelaw E. SmcHD1, containing a structural-maintenance-of-chromosomes hinge domain, has a critical role in X inactivation. Nat. Genet. 40: 663-669, 2008.

De Graaf CA, Kauppi M, Baldwin T, Hyland C, Metcalf D, Willson TA, Carpinelli MR, Smyth GK, Alexander WS, Pimanda JE, Hilton DJ. Regulation of hematopoietic stem cells by their mature progeny. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107: 21689-94, 2010. PMID: 21115812

Taoudi S, Bee T, Hilton A, Kenzevic K, Scott J, Willson TA, Collin C, Thomas T, Voss AK, Kile BT, Alexander WS, Pimanda JE, Hilton DJ. ERG dependence distinguishes developmental control of hematopoietic stem cell maintenance from hematopoietic specification. Genes Dev 25: 251-62, 2011. PMID: 21245161

Ng AP, Kauppi M, Metcalf D, Hyland CD, Josefsson EC, Lebois M, Zhang JG, Baldwin TM, Di Rago L, Hilton DJ, Alexander WS. Mpl expression on megakaryocytes and platelets is dispensable for thrombopoiesis but essential to prevent myeloproliferation. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 111: 5884-9, 2014. PMID: 24711413

Potts KS, Sargeant TJ, Markham JF, Shi W, Biben C, Josefsson EC, Whitehead LW, Rogers KL, Liakhovitskaia A, Smyth GK, Kile BT, Medvinsky A, Alexander WS, Hilton DJ, Taoudi S. A lineage of diploid platelet-forming cells precedes polyploid megakaryocyte formation in the mouse embryo. Blood 2014 Jul 25. pii: blood-2014-02-559468. PMID: 25079356

de Graaf CA, Choi J, Baldwin TM, Bolden JE, Fairfax KA, Robinson AJ, Biben , Morgan C, Ramsay K, Ng AP, Kauppi M, Kruse EA, Sargeant TJ, Seidenman N, D’Amico A, D’Ombrain MC, Lucas EC, Koernig S, Baz Morelli A, Wilson MJ, Dower SK, Williams B, Heazlewood SY, Hu Y, Nilsson SK, Wu L, Smyth GK, Alexander WS, Hilton DJ. Haemopedia: an expression atlas of murine hematopoietic cells. Stem Cell Reports. 2016 Sep 13;7(3):571-582. PMID: 27499199

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