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Oral history interview with Ann B. Hill

  • 2002-Aug-05 – 2002-Aug-07

Ann B. Hill was born in Melbourne, but was raised primarily in Sydney, Australia, the second youngest of four children. Her father took advantage of opportunities for returning soldiers after the Second World War and pursued a degree in electronic engineering; her mother worked as a teacher until her children were born. Hill was a voracious reader throughout her childhood; she did not develop an interest in science until high school. She had a number of influential educators in her life, including teachers, principals, and family members. Ultimately she decided to study medicine at the University of New South Wales. She participated in a summer research program in Robert V. Blanden's laboratory at the Australian National University before interning at Sydney Hospital with a specialization in internal medicine. She continued to train in clinical immunology at St. Vincent's Hospital in Sydney, where she also worked to set up an immunology clinic for AIDS patients. Wanting to combine clinical medicine and scientific research, Hill returned to the Australian National University for her doctoral degree, working in Arno Mullbacher's laboratory on immunodominance and the cytotoxic T-cell response to flaviviruses. After winning the Oxford Nuffield Dominions Medical Fellowship she attended Oxford University as a postdoctoral fellow in Andrew J. McMichael's laboratory, researching HLA-B51, cross-presentation, and immuno-evasion. At the end of her postdoc, Hill took another postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Hidde L. Ploegh's lab to study immuno-evasion by herpes simplex viruses. This last postdoctoral fellowship proved quite influential scientifically and Hill continued work on immune-evasion as a member of the Oregon Health Sciences University. Hill used the remainder of the interview to reflect upon her own career, as well as various contemporary issues in scientific research and practice, like her decision to enter medicine rather than the humanities; the impact of her senior high school education on her career; patents and the privatization of scientific research; and competition in science. She ends the interview with thoughts about her family and the role that the Pew Scholars Program in Biomedical Sciences has played and continues to play in her work.

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