Dr. Hillier’s main research interests focus on the role of normal vaginal bacteria and infections on pregnancy complications and their part in genital infection and susceptibility to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS. She is principal investigator for an $8 million NIH-funded project to develop a topical microbicide barrier to HIV.
“I believe fervently in trying to find a way to help women protect themselves against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV,” said Dr. Hillier. “Currently, women have no way to protect themselves except condoms, and women do not control condom use.”
Dr. Hillier and her colleagues currently are pursuing several scientific projects that involve UC781, a tight-binding organic molecule about the size of an antibiotic. UC781 is a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor that renders the HIV virus incapable of infecting cells.
A native of Washington state, Dr. Hillier received her undergraduate and doctoral degrees in bacteriology and public health from Washington State University in Pullman, Wash. She came to the University of Pittsburgh in 1995 from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she was a research associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and microbiology.
In addition to her teaching duties, Dr. Hillier is director of reproductive infectious disease research at the Magee-Womens Research Institute.
She is author or co-author of more than 400 articles, book chapters and abstracts in the medical literature, and is president of the Infectious Disease Society for Obstetrics and Gynecology, an affiliate organization of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. She also is a member of the American Sexually Transmitted Disease Association, the Anaerobe Society of the Americas, and the Joint Indo-United States Working Group on Reproductive Health.
Dr. Hillier is on the editorial boards of several medical journals, including Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Reviews in Contemporary Pharmacotherapy, Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Anaerobe.