Dr Natasha Hill

Dr Natasha Hill

Associate Professor in Biomedical Sciences

School of Biomedical Sciences (Faculty of Health)



Associate Professor in Biomedical Science, Faculty of Health, University of Plymouth


After graduating from Bristol University with a degree in Biochemistry I completed a PhD on the genetics of Type 1 diabetes at The Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford. I then moved to The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California to investigate the effect of diabetes gene variants on the development of autoimmunity. This work led to an interest in the interaction between inflammation and the target islet tissue and the potential for islet regeneration, focusing in particular on the role the extracellular matrix in cell survival and differentiation. I returned to the UK and worked briefly as an independent research fellow at the Blizard Institute in Whitechapel, part of Barts and The London Queen Mary University, before obtaining an academic position at Kingston University in 2008. 
In 2021, I joined the School of Biomedical Sciences within the Faculty of Health at the University of Plymouth.  My current research interests focus on three main areas: 
1) investigating stromal-derived matrix and matricellular proteins as therapeutic targets in pancreatic cancer.
2) working with a multi-disciplinary team to develop novel technology for early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
3) using matrix proteins to improve stem cell differentiation and beta cell regeneration for the treatment of diabetes.
I teach cancer cell biology at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, and am also currently Deputy Director of the Doctoral College for the Faculty of Health (2023-present).  

Professional membership

Senior Fellow of Higher Education Academy
Professional member of Diabetes UK
Member of the British Society for Matrix Biology
Member of the Society for Endocrinology 

Roles on external bodies

I regularly review grants for various funding agencies including Diabetes UK, MRC and BBSRC, and have also been a member of the expert review panel for the Polish National Science Centre. 
I review manuscripts for a wide range of journals; recent examples include EBioMedicine, Human Molecular Genetics, Clinical Science, Scientific Reports, World Journal of Gastroenterology.
I am on the editorial board of Current Biomarkers journal.


Key publications

Key publications are highlighted

Spiritosanto E, Lemmon B, Mohamedi-Yousufi F, Munasinghe HA, Mahmood A, Bray R, McNeice R, Mackenzie FE, Hill NJ* and Cortes E3* (*equal last authors); Expression of mechano-growth factor (MGF) in refractory overactive bladder.  Preprint medRxiv 2023.12.08.23299594; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.12.08.23299594 

Hewawasam NV, Lhaf F, Taylor HA, Viloria K, Austin A, King A, Jones P, Jones L, Turner MD & Hill NJ (2020) 'Modulation of Rab7a-mediated growth factor receptor trafficking inhibits islet beta cell apoptosis and autophagy under conditions of metabolic stress' Scientific Reports 10, (1) , DOI Open access
Munasinghe A, Malik K, Mohamedi F, Moaraf S, Kocher H, Jones L & Hill NJ (2020) 'Fibronectin acts as a molecular switch to determine SPARC function in pancreatic cancer' Cancer Letters 477, 88-96 Publisher Site , DOI
Benedetti S, Al-Tannak NF, Alzharani M, Moir HJ, Stensel DJ, Thackray AE, Naughton DP, Dorak MT, Spendiff O & Hill N (2019) 'Plasma Free Fatty Acids Metabolic Profile with LC-MS and Appetite-Related Hormones in South Asian and White European Men in Relation to Adiposity, Physical Activity and Cardiorespiratory Fitness: A Cross-Sectional Study' Metabolites 9, (4) 71-71 Publisher Site , DOI Open access
Funnell G, Naicker K, Chang J, Hill N & Kayyali R (2018) 'A cross-sectional survey investigating women’s information sources, behaviour, expectations, knowledge and level of satisfaction on advice received about diet and supplements before and during pregnancy' BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 18, (1) , DOI Open access
Viloria K, Munasinghe A, Asher S, Bogyere R, Jones L & Hill NJ (2016) 'A holistic approach to dissecting SPARC family protein complexity reveals FSTL-1 as an inhibitor of pancreatic cancer cell growth' Scientific Reports 6, (1) Publisher Site , DOI Open access
Viloria K & Hill NJ (2016) 'Embracing the complexity of matricellular proteins: the functional and clinical significance of splice variation' Biomolecular Concepts 7, (2) 117-132 Publisher Site , DOI
Ryall CL, Viloria K, Lhaf F, Walker AJ, King A, Jones P, Mackintosh D, McNeice R, Kocher H & Flodstrom-Tullberg M (2014) 'Novel Role for Matricellular Proteins in the Regulation of Islet β Cell Survival' Journal of Biological Chemistry 289, (44) 30614-30624 Publisher Site , DOI
McGuire HM, Vogelzang A, Hill N, Flodström-Tullberg M, Sprent J & King C (2009) 'Loss of parity between IL-2 and IL-21 in the NOD Idd3 locus' Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106, (46) 19438-19443 Publisher Site , DOI
Yadav D, Hill N, Yagita H, Azuma M & Sarvetnick N (2009) 'Altered availability of PD-1/PD ligands is associated with the failure to control autoimmunity in NOD mice' Cellular Immunology 258, (2) 161-171 Publisher Site , DOI
Hultcrantz M, Jacobson S, Hill NJ, Santamaria P & Flodström-Tullberg M (2008) 'The target cell response to cytokines governs the autoreactive T cell repertoire in the pancreas of NOD mice' Diabetologia 52, (2) 299-305 Publisher Site , DOI
Hill NJ (2008) 'Recent acquisitions on the genetic basis of autoimmune disease' Frontiers in Bioscience Volume, (13) 4838-4838 Publisher Site , DOI
Hill NJ, Hultcrantz M, Sarvetnick N & Flodström-Tullberg M (2007) 'The target tissue in autoimmunity – an influential niche' European Journal of Immunology 37, (3) 589-597 Publisher Site , DOI
Hill NJ, Stotland A, Solomon M, Secrest P, Getzoff E & Sarvetnick N (2007) 'Resistance of the target islet tissue to autoimmune destruction contributes to genetic susceptibility in Type 1 diabetes' Biology Direct 2, (1) Publisher Site , DOI
Hill NJ, Stotland AB & Sarvetnick NE (2006) 'Distinct regulation of autoreactive CD4 T cell expansion by interleukin-4 under conditions of lymphopenia' Journal of Leukocyte Biology 81, (3) 757-765 Publisher Site , DOI
Hill NJ, Van Gunst K & Sarvetnick N (2003) 'Th1 and Th2 Pancreatic Inflammation Differentially Affects Homing of Islet-Reactive CD4 Cells in Nonobese Diabetic Mice' The Journal of Immunology 170, (4) 1649-1658 Publisher Site , DOI
Hill N & Sarvetnick N (2002) 'Cytokines: promoters and dampeners of autoimmunity' Current Opinion in Immunology 14, (6) 791-797 Publisher Site , DOI
Cordell HJ, Todd JA, Hill NJ, Lord CJ, Lyons PA, Peterson LB, Wicker LS & Clayton DG (2001) 'Statistical Modeling of Interlocus Interactions in a Complex Disease: Rejection of the Multiplicative Model of Epistasis in Type 1 Diabetes' Genetics 158, (1) 357-367 Publisher Site , DOI
Hill NJ, Lyons PA, Armitage N, Todd JA, Wicker LS & Peterson LB (2000) 'NOD Idd5 locus controls insulitis and diabetes and overlaps the orthologous CTLA4/IDDM12 and NRAMP1 loci in humans' Diabetes 49, (10) 1744-1747 Publisher Site , DOI
Lyons PA, Hancock WW, Denny P, Lord CJ, Hill NJ, Armitage N, Siegmund T, Todd JA, Phillips MS & Hess JF (2000) 'The NOD Idd9 Genetic Interval Influences the Pathogenicity of Insulitis and Contains Molecular Variants of Cd30, Tnfr2, and Cd137' Immunity 13, (1) 107-115 Publisher Site , DOI
Lyons PA, Armitage N, Argentina F, Denny P, Hill NJ, Lord CJ, Wilusz MB, Peterson LB, Wicker LS & Todd JA (2000) 'Congenic Mapping of the Type 1 Diabetes Locus,<i>Idd3</i>, to a 780-kb Region of Mouse Chromosome 3: Identification of a Candidate Segment of Ancestral DNA by Haplotype Mapping' Genome Research 10, (4) 446-453 Publisher Site , DOI
Esposito L, Hill NJ, Pritchard LE, Cucca F, Muxworthy C, Merriman ME, Wilson A, Julier C, Delepine M & Tuomilehto J (1998) 'Genetic analysis of chromosome 2 in type 1 diabetes: analysis of putative loci IDDM7, IDDM12, and IDDM13 and candidate genes NRAMP1 and IA-2 and the interleukin-1 gene cluster. IMDIAB Group' Diabetes 47, (11) 1797-1799 Publisher Site , DOI
Podolin PL, Denny P, Armitage N, Lord CJ, Hill NJ, Levy ER, Peterson LB, Todd JA, Wicker LS & Lyons PA (1998) 'Localization of two insulin-dependent diabetes (Idd) genes to the Idd10 region on mouse Chromosome 3' Mammalian Genome 9, (4) 283-286 Publisher Site , DOI
Podolin PL, Denny P, Lord CJ, Hill NJ, Todd JA, Peterson LB, Wicker LS & Lyons PA (1997) 'Congenic mapping of the insulin-dependent diabetes (Idd) gene, Idd10, localizes two genes mediating the Idd10 effect and eliminates the candidate Fcgr1' The Journal of Immunology 159, (4) 1835-1843 Publisher Site , DOI
Denny P, Lord CJ, Hill NJ, Goy JV, Levy ER, Podolin PL, Peterson LB, Wicker LS, Todd JA & Lyons PA (1997) 'Mapping of the IDDM Locus <i>Idd3</i> to a 0.35-cM Interval Containing the <i>Interleukin-2</i> Gene' Diabetes 46, (4) 695-700 Publisher Site , DOI
Lord CJ, Bohlander SK, Hopes EA, Montague CT, Hill NJ, Prins J-B, Renjilian RJ, Peterson LB, Wicker LS & Todd JA (1995) 'Mapping the diabetes polygene Idd3 on mouse Chromosome 3 by use of novel congenic strains' Mammalian Genome 6, (9) 563-570 Publisher Site , DOI