Bertil Hille PhD

Recipient of the Canada Gairdner International Award, 2001
"For the elucidation of the mechanism of action and molecular structure of cation channels."

University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA


Dr. Bertil Hille has provided medical science with a foundation for modern understanding of ion channels; his findings being as important for cardiac muscle as for the brain. His work has had enormous influence on the work of others, in no small part because his book on ion channels is widely read, being readily understood by novices in the field. Clinical medicine owes the concept of use-dependant block of ion channels by local anesthetics to Hille. He discovered the way that muscarinic acetycholine receptors in the heart, acting through G-proteins, turn on M-type Ca2+channels. He dissected the mechanism for modulation of K+ and N-type Ca2+ channels in sympathetic neurons. These contributions are all relevant to the development of drug therapies that work through channels. Thus Hille's seminal work is of enormous value to human disease and relief of human suffering and to the broader aspects of medicine.

Bertil Hille received his BS degree from Yale University in 1962 and his PhD from Rockefeller University in 1967. He was a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. A.L. Hodgkin at the Physiological Laboratories, Cambridge University from 1967-1968. He has been Assistant, Associate and Full Professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, since 1968. Among his many honours are: election to the National Academy of Sciences, 1986; Harvey Lecturer, New York, 1986; the Bristol Myers Squibb Award for distinquished Achievement in Neuroscience Research, 1990; Columbia University Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize for Biology or Biochemistry (shared with Clay Armstrong) 1996; The Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award (shared with Clay Armstrong and Rod MacKinnon) 1999.