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 with Prof John Todd at The Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford. I then moved to the USA to train in cellular immunology in order to investigate the effect of diabetes gene variants on the development of autoimmunity, working with Dr Nora Sarvetnick at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. This work led to an interest in the interaction between inflammation and the target islet tissue, and the potential for target resistance and islet regeneration. 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 School of Medicine and Dentistry, before obtaining an academic position at Kingston University in 2008. At Kingston I established a successful research group supported by sustained external grant funding, alongside highly effective teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. I was granted Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in 2015. I also established and led the interdisciplinary Diabetes and Cardiovascular Research Group, and I was promoted to Associate Professor in 2015.
In 2021, I joined the School of Biomedical Sciences within the Faculty of Health at Plymouth University, where I teach cell and molecular biology and lead a research group focused primarily on the role of matrix and matricellular proteins as therapeutic targets to treat pancreatic cancer, and in supporting stem cell differentiation/beta cell regeneration to treat diabetes. In collaboration with Dr David Jenkins in the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics, I am also working on the development of novel diagnostic biosensor for pancreatic cancer.

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

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 , 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 , 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) , 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 , 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 , 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 , 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 , 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 , DOI
Hill NJ (2008) 'Recent acquisitions on the genetic basis of autoimmune disease' Frontiers in Bioscience Volume, (13) 4838-4838 , 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 , 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) , 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 , 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 , DOI
Hill N & Sarvetnick N (2002) 'Cytokines: promoters and dampeners of autoimmunity' Current Opinion in Immunology 14, (6) 791-797 , 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 , 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 , 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 , 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 , 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 , 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 , 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 , 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 , 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 , DOI