Professor Doug Hilton

Professor Doug Hilton



Professor Doug at WEHI



AO BSc Monash BSc(Hons) PhD Melbourne FAA FTSE FAHMS

Institute Director; Laboratory Head

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.


Research interest

My laboratory studies the development and function of blood cells. We aim to identify genes and molecular pathways that are important in regulating normal blood cell production and understand the changes that lead to blood cell disorders such as inflammatory diseases, leukemia and lymphoma.

Some of our fundamental research breakthroughs are being exploited to improve the body’s immune response to cancer.

We are committed to translating our research into improvements in disease outcomes. Discoveries my laboratory made are being developed as a treatment of asthma by ASLAN Pharmaceuticals and CSL.

We take a multidisciplinary approach combining cell biology, physiology, biochemistry and molecular biology, genomics, bioinformatics and computational biology to understand the blood cell system and its individual lineages. We also develop software that assists biologist in visualising and interacting with large data sets.

Professor Doug Hilton

Institute director Professor Doug Hilton has been appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in recognition of his service to medical research, his advocacy for gender equity in science and his commitment to supporting young researchers.

Doug Hilton in his office

Professor Doug Hilton has been named as one of 20 inaugural ‘Male Champions of Change’ by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, for his work to improve the representation of women at senior levels of medical research.