Dr. Hill’s focus is elucidating how the microenvironment promotes the progression of cancer through various molecular mechanisms including ER stress and the release of exosomes.
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the 3rd leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and has a 5-year survival rate of 9%. This dismal prognosis shows an urgent need for novel therapeutic strategies. A prominent desmoplastic reaction, when the microenvironment surrounding epithelial tumors expands due to infiltration of fibroblasts, pancreatic stellate cells, immune cell populations, and endothelial cells, is one of the hallmarks of PDAC. Thus, full understanding of disease development will require experimental assessment of the mechanisms through which the microenvironment can affect the course of disease progression.
Dr. Hill uses novel mouse models, human clinical samples, and newly-established assay systems to elucidate how the microenvironment or inflammation contributes to all three stages of tumorigenesis: initiation, progression to metastasis, and therapeutic resistance.