Hilary obtained a BSc in Biology from the University of York, MSc in Medical Parasitology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a PhD in Molecular Entomology from Cardiff University. Following a postdoc at the University of Notre Dame, USA she returned to Cardiff University as a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow.
She joined LSTM in 2001 and was Head of the Department of Vector Biology from 2010-2019, subsequently joining LSTM’s Senior Management Group
In 2021 Hilary was appointed as LSTM’s first Dean for Research Culture and Integrity.
Hilary’s research team study methods to improve the control of mosquito vectors of human disease. She has a particular interest in the causes and consequences of insecticide resistance and her group have been using a variety of bioassay and molecular approaches to study the mechanisms of insecticide resistance in Anopheles and Aedes mosquitoes
Hilary has coordinated several interdisciplinary projects in vector control including the European Union FP7 collaborative project, AvecNet from 2010-2016 (AvecNet EU) and the Wellcome Trust Collaborative Award ‘Malaria in Insecticide Resistant Africa (MIRA) from 2016-2019. Further information on some of the current projects Hilary is leading is provided below.
Partnership for Increasing the Impact of Vector Control (PIIVeC)
PIIVeC is a research capability strengthening partnership supported by the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund. By investing in individuals and institutes in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Malawi and the UK, and working with a wide range of stakeholders, we are building the evidence base for vector control. PIIVeC is also supporting policy makers in utilizing this evidence in defining and implementing vector control strategies.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Funded ESSENTIALs project is developing entomological indicators to assess the performance of new classes of insecticide treated nets. Utilising a range of benchtop and field assays the project is determine how effective the new classes of insecticide treated nets, currently being deployed in Africa to combat pyrethroid resistance, are against different vector populations in Benin, Burkina Faso and Tanzania. Working with Imperial College, the project will test whether a combination of entomological evaluation and mathematical model can predict the impact of switching to new classes of nets on malaria cases in different epidemiological settings.
The role of Chemosensory Proteins in Insecticide Resistance
We recently discovered a highly potent pyrethroid resistance mechanism in African Anopheles mosquitoes. An increase in the expression of a class of small proteins normally involved in chemical communications (and hence termed chemosensory proteins) in the legs of the mosquito acts as a sponge, absorbing the pyrethroid insecticides as it enters the mosquito via contact with the bednet. One specific member of this protein family, SAP2, is of key importance: mosquitoes that have elevated levels of SAP2 have a much greater chance of surviving pyrethroid exposure and, if we stop the mosquitoes producing this protein, this pyrethroid resistance largely disappears. With funding from BBSRC we are now establishing exactly how increases in expression of this SAP2 protein plays such a pivotal role in pyrethroid resistance and screening for inhibitors that could be used as synergists to break this resistance mechanism.
Liverpool Insect Testing Establishment (LITE)
The Liverpool Insect Testing Establishment provides a professional service to screen new vector control products against insecticide resistant populations of mosquitoes. LITE maintains a range of insecticide susceptible and resistant colonies of mosquitoes, many unique to LSTM, and offers a number of alternative protocols for insecticide efficacy testing.
Jessica Williams: Preparing for field release of new insecticides
Leslie Choi: The role of entomological outcomes in informing global malaria vector control policy
Kath Gleave: The impact of insecticide resistance and parasite infection on vector behaviour
Hilary participates in the teaching of the Masters programmes in Biology and Control of Parasites and Disease Vectors and Molecular Biology of Parasites and Disease Vectors, and is module convenor for the 3rd year BSc module in Vector Biology
Postdocs and Programme Managers
Dr Eddie Thomsen: Programme Manager, PIIVeC
Sharon Mullane: Programme Co-ordinator: ESSENTIALs
Dr Rosemary Lees: Programme Manager: New Nets Project
Dr Linda Grigoraki: Sir Henry Wellcome Fellow
Dr Federica Guglielmo: Anthropologist
Dr John Howard: PDRA on chemosensory protein project
- Partnership for Increasing the Impact of Vector Control, MRC
- Liverpool Insecticide Testing Establishment, IVCC
- Developing Entomological Indicators to assess the public health value on next generation insecticide treated nets, BMGF
- The role of chemosensory proteins in conferring pyrethroid resistance, BBSRC
Other relevant expertise, professional memberships etc.
- Member of Vector Control Advisory Group, WHO
- Member of the Editorial Board of Insect Molecular Biology and Medical and Veterinary Entomology
- Member of UK Advisory Committee on Malaria Prophylaxis
- Fellow of Royal Entomological Society