Institute of Cellular Medicine

Staff Profile

Dr David Hill

NC3Rs David Sainsbury Fellow



I am a cellular dermatologist with a particular interest in developing animal replacement technologies to investigate the deregulated cellular signalling mechanisms of melanoma skin cancer. My aim is to improve the welfare of animals in research by demonstrating that in vitro and simple in vivo models, that I have recently developed and optimised, can be viable alternatives to the use of rodents for scientific research. I aim to use such models to improve our understanding of melanoma aetiology, which will inform the development of better stratified medicine and therapeutics, and in doing so build confidence in non-animal technologies. I also believe that research-led teaching will enrich and enhance the education of undergraduate and postgraduate students while also having a reciprocal benefit on research by fostering the creation of new ideas and insights.


2007 – 2010   Newcastle University   PhD

                       Thesis entitled: ‘Influence of BRAF signalling on endoplasmic reticulum stress induced cell death of metastatic melanoma’  Supervisors: Dr Penny Lovat and Prof. Mark Birch-Machin

2005 – 2006   Newcastle University   MRes in Medical and Molecular Biosciences

2002 – 2005   University of Durham  BSc Hons 2:1 Degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

Previous Positions

2012 – 2014 Post-doctoral research associate, Dermatological Sciences (Prof Penny Lovat), ICM, Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK, NE2 4HH.

2010 – 2012 Post-doctoral research officer, Experimental Melanoma Therapy Group (Prof Nikolas Haass), Centenary Institute, Sydney, Australia, NSW 2050.

Professional Society Memberships and Committees

European Society for Dermatological Research (ESDR)

British Society for Investigative Dermatology (BSID)

Australasian Society of Dermatological Research (ASDR)

British Association of Cancer Research (BACR)

European Association of Cancer Research (EACR)

Athena Swan Committee member for the Institute of Cellular Medicine.


Research Interests

The current focus of my research centres on developing improved therapeutic strategies to overcome the resistance of melanoma cells to the targeted therapeutics that are currently used to treat patients with melanoma. Specifically, my research aims to understand how the induction of adaptive pro-survival mechanisms, such as autophagy and the unfolded protein response, contributes to the development of drug-resistance. The use of animal replacement models, such as the full-thickness human skin equivalent that accurately recreates the microenvironment of normal human skin, as well as the zebrafish xenograft of human metastatic melanoma that is used to investigate the metastatic spread of individual melanoma cells in an in vivo microenvironment, will accelerate the translation of preliminary finding into clinical use.


International patent P207153WO – Newcastle University and Alcyomics Ltd (2014)

Inventors: Hill DS, Lovat PE, Ahmed S and Dickinson AM

A novel skin model to study adverse immune reactions and drug sensitivity.


The National Centre for the Refinement, Replacement, and Reduction of Animals in Research

 The Newcastle Healthcare Charities

The Danish Society for the Protection of Animals in Research (Forsogsdyrenes Vaern & Alternativfondet)

North Eastern Skin Research Fund (NESRF)

Esteem indicators

International, National and Regional Prizes:

Oral Presentation prize at the Institute of Cellular Medicine Directors Research Day (Newcastle, UK; June 2016)

British Association for Cancer Research (BACR) (£1700) and Journal of Cell Science (JCS) travel bursaries (£2100) to visit the Laboratory of Dr Guillermo Velasco (Complutense University, Madrid; March 2016).

British Society for Investigative Dermatology (BSID) Young Investigator Award (Southampton, UK; March 2015).

Oral presentation prize at the BSID annual meeting (Newcastle, UK; April 2014).

European Society for Dermatological Research (ESDR) ‘Future Leaders in Dermatology’ academy position to present data and network with other young European dermatologists (Florence, Italy; October 2013).

Invited Speaker:

I was invited to visit to the lab of Dr Guillermo Velasco, Complutense University, Madrid, Spain, from March – April 2015 where I worked for 2 months and presented data from a research project focussing on the role of autophagy in CD271-positive melanoma cells. 

Following the 2013 annual Society of Melanoma Research (SMR) meeting in Philadelphia, USA, I was invited to visit and present data to the laboratory of Professor Meenhard Herlyn at the Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, USA.

Other Esteem Indicators: 

Lead organiser of the Future Leaders in Dermatology satellite symposium at the European Society of Dermatological Research (ESDR) annual conference, Rotterdam, The Netherlands (September 2015).

Lead organiser of the first NC3Rs David Sainsbury Seminar Series, a national seminar hosted at Newcastle University, UK (October 2016). 

Reviewer of grant proposals for The Carnegie Trust and The British Skin Foundation, as well as reviewer of submitted manuscripts for the Journal of Cell Science, European Journal of Cancer, Cell Death and Disease, PLoS ONE and Oncotarget.


Teaching and Supervision

* Lecturer for the 3Rs module of the MRes in Medical and Molecular Biosciences course (Course code MMB8012).

* Supervision of Stage 3 BSc in Biomedical Sciences project students (Course code CMB3000).

* Supervision of MRes in Medical and Molecular Biosciences project students (Course code MMB8008).

* Co-supervision of PhD students (Mrs Nethia Mohana-Kumaran 2010-12, Mr Chris McKee 2012-13, Ms Ashleigh McConnell 2013-16, Dr Stamatina Verykiou 2012-16 (Dermatology special registrar), Miss Lydia Costello 2015-18 and Mr Mahid Ahmed 2015-18).