Gilda Hillman

Gilda Hillman

Gilda Hillman

Position Title


Mailing Address

Karmanos Cancer Center
4100 John R Rd. 
Detroit, MI 48201

Education Training

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

Postgraduate Training
(1986-1990) Associate Researcher, Department of Human Oncology, CSC, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
(1982-1985) Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Therapeutic Radiology and Laboratory of Medicine and Pathology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. 
(1977-1982) Graduate Student, Department of Virology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.
(1976) Research Associate, Department of Virology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel. 
(1973-1975) M.Sc. Student, Department of Virology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.
(1973) Research Assistant, Department of Pharmacology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel. 

Professional Experience

Faculty Appointments

(2017 - Present)  Professor Emeritus, Department of Oncology, Division of Radiation Oncology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
(2011-2017)  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
(2012-2017)  Departmental Faculty Development Liaison (DFDL), Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI
(2011-2017)  Graduate Faculty for Cancer Biology Graduate Program, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI
(1990-2017)  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 

Honors and Awards

(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. 

Courses taught

CB 7210/PHC 7210: Fundamentals of Cancer Biology
CB 7410: Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy

Research Interests

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. 


  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.

Faculty Status


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