School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

Profile View

Gilda Gali Hillman, Ph.D.
Professor - Department of Oncology (Radiation Oncology)
Faculty Development Liaison, Wayne State University School of Medicine
Director, Radiation/Gene Therapy/Soy Program
(313) 576-8257

(1983) Ph.D., Virology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel
(1976) M.Sc., Virology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel
(1973)  B.Sc., Biology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel

Post Graduate Training
(1986-1990) Associate Researcher, Department of Human Oncology, CSC, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI. Functional and phenotypic analysis of LAK cells generated in cancer patients by in vivo IL-2 therapy.
(1982-1985) Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Therapeutic Radiology and Laboratory of Medicine and Pathology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. Destruction of human leukemia and lymphoma cells by immunotoxins in in vitro and in vivo systems.
(1977-1982) Graduate Student, Department of Virology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel. Thesis: Effect and Mechanism of Action of Non-Oncogenic Viruses on Human Malignant Cells (Oncolysis) in vitro and in vivo.
(1976) Research Associate, Department of Virology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel. Investigation of the replication of RNA tumor viruses reverse transcription and its regulation.
(1973-1975) M.Sc. Student, Department of Virology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel. Influence of the anti-cancer drugs, Vinblastine and Vincristine on the synthesis of DNA and ribosomal RNA.
(1973) Research Assistant, Department of Pharmacology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel. Radioimmunoassay for prolactin and HPL.

Faculty Appointments
(2011-Pres) Professor, Department of Oncology (Radiation Oncology), Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI
(1998-2011) Associate Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI
(1996-1998) Associate Professor, Department of Urology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI
(1990-1996) Assistant Professor, Department of Urology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI

Hospital or Other Professional Appointments
Faculty Development Liaison, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI
Director, Radiation / Gene Therapy / Soy Program
(2012-Present) Departmental Faculty Development Liaison (DFDL), Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI
(2011-Present) Graduate Faculty for Cancer Biology Graduate Program, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI
(1990-Present) Associate Member of the Immunology and Microbiology Department, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI
(2011-2014) Member of Tumor Microenvironment Program, Department of Oncology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI
(1990-1998) Director of Tumor Immunology Laboratory, Department of Urology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI

Major Professional Societies
(2015-Present) Member, SITC: Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer
(2010-Present) ASTRO: American Society for Radiation Oncology
(1991-Present) AACR: American Association for Cancer Research
(1998) American Urological Association
(1998) International Society for Preventive Oncology
(1993) International Society for the Study of Comparative Oncology
(1991-2005) SBT: The Society for Biological Therapy
(1991) AAI: American Association of Immunologists
(1990) Detroit Immunological Society


Awards & Honors

(2000) NCI-ACR travel award to attend First International Conference on Translational Research and Pre-Clinical Strategies in Radio-Oncology, Lugano, Switzerland
(1982-1984) Post doctoral fellowship from Anna Fuller Fund
(1982-1983) Henry Bayles research fellowship from Israel Cancer Research Fund
(1983) Jacob I. Schaffer Faculty Award for outstanding achievement and excellent Ph.D. Thesis.
(1974) Outstanding academic achievement prize from the Women's Academic Association of the Hebrew University.

Areas of Interest

I have developed orthotopic animal models of different types of malignancies and extensively investigated various systemic therapeutic approaches to enhance the local effect of radiotherapy and control metastatic disease. These included natural dietary compounds (notably soy isoflavones), anti-angiogenic drugs, immunotherapy and immuno-mediated gene therapy. I have also developed expertise in studying the radioprotection of normal tissues using soy compounds to reduce radiation toxicity, while simultaneously increasing the anti-tumor effect.

Radiation and Immunotherapy:
I was among the pioneers to study enhancement of tumor response to radiation by immunotherapy and immuno-mediated gene therapy (since 1990-2015). We found that local tumor irradiation given prior to immunotherapy or cancer vaccines greatly improved the local tumor response and systemic disease. This approach is currently generating a lot of interest in the field of cancer therapy.

Radiation and natural dietary compounds:
I have worked during the past 14 years on the synergistic effects of radiotherapy with soy isoflavones natural compounds. Soy isoflavones have shown chemopreventive and anti-cancer properties in multiple studies. We were the first ones to demonstrate that soy enhances the killing of tumor cells in multiple studies both in vitro and in animal tumor models in vivo. We have extensively investigated the mechanisms of interaction between radiation and soy and demonstrated that soy inhibits survival molecular pathways which are upregulated in tumor cells by radiation, resulting in cell death. These studies were consistently reproduced in prostate cancer, kidney cancer and lung cancer. They were translated in a published clinical trial in prostate cancer demonstrating not only increased cancer response to radiotherapy but also radioprotective effects of surrounding organs. This differential effect of soy as an enhancer of radiation response on cancer and radioprotector of normal tissues is currently under investigation in my research program in lung tumor models, focusing on mitigation of radiation-induced injury to normal lungs. Our findings have been translated into a clinical trial for stage III NSCLC patients receiving chemo-radiotherapy and soy tablets as supplements.

Radiation and anti-angiogenic drugs
I have investigated the effects of two anti-angiogenic drugs, sunitinib and axitinib, obtained from Pfizer to enhance the effect of radiotherapy in kidney cancer and lung cancer. These studies were successful and demonstrated that normalization of tumor vasculature with anti-angiogenic drugs significantly improved the radiation response.

 Dr. Hillman Video

Select Recent Publications
  1. M.D. Fountain, L.M. Abernathy, F. Lonardo, S.E. Rothstein, M.M. Dominello, W. Chen, S.M. Gadgeel, M.C. Joiner, G.G. Hillman, Radiation-Induced Esophagitis is Mitigated by Soy Isoflavones. Frontiers in Oncology, 2015; 5:238. PMCID: PMC4617099
  2. L. M. Abernathy, M. D. Fountain, S.E. Rothstein, J. M. David, C. K. Yunker, J. Rakowski, F. Lonardo, M.C. Joiner, G.G. Hillman. Soy Isoflavones Promote Radioprotection of Normal Lung Tissue by Inhibition of Radiation-Induced Activation of Macrophages and Neutrophils. J. Thoracic Oncol, 2015. 10: 1703-1712.
  3. E.J. Wuthrick, W.J. Curran Jr., K. Camphausen, A. Lin, J. Glass, J. Evans, D.W. Andrews, R. Axelrod, W. Shi, M. Werner-Wasik, E.M. Haacke, G.G. Hillman, A.P. Dicker, A Pilot Study of Hypofractionated Stereotactic Radiation Therapy and Sunitinib in Previously Irradiatiod Patients with Reccurent High-Grade Glioma. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2014; 90: 369-375. PMID: 25104067
  4. G.G. Hillman, F. Lonardo, D.J. Hoogstra , J. T. Rakowski , C. K. Yunker, M.C. Joiner, G. Dyson, S. Gadgeel, V. Singh-Gupta. Axitinib Improves Radiotherapy in Murine Xenograft Lung Tumors. Translational Oncology, 2014; 7: 400–409. PMID:24862536.
  5. G.G. Hillman, V. Singh-Gupta, F. Lonardo, D.J. Hoogstra, L. M. Abernathy, S.E. Rothstein, C. K. Yunker, J. T. Rakowski, F.H. Sarkar, S. Gadgeel, A.A. Konski, M.C. Joiner. Radioprotection of Lung Tissue by Soy Isoflavones. J. Thoracic Oncol, 2013; 8: 1356-64 PMID: 24077456. This article was highlighted by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) in November 2013 and by a Press Release from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) in October 2013.


Complete List of Published Work in MyBibliography