Dr Heidi Hilton is an early career researcher who has worked in the field of mammary gland biology and breast cancer for the last 13 years. After completing a PhD at the Garvan Institute in 2009, she moved to the Centre for Cancer Research at The Westmead Institute for Medical Research. Her current research interests are in breast cancer cell biology, with a focus on investigating the role of the hormone, progesterone, in both the normal human breast and in breast cancer. She was the lead author on several recent publications and, as an early career researcher, is continuing to build a profile in the breast cancer research field.  She has been awarded a number of awards, prizes, ande external peer-reviewed grants to support both her own salary and her research, as well as receiving invitations to speak at national and international conferences. Heidi takes a keen interest in promoting and advocating the importance of medical research, and was the Convenor of the NSW State Branch Committee of the Australian Society for Medical Research (2014-2015). Heidi is currently a National Breast Cancer Foundation Career Development Fellow.







Endocrinology, Breast cancer, Cell biology


Cancer, Lifespan

Research Focus

Dr Hilton’s current research is at the cutting edge of understanding the interplay between ovarian hormones estrogen and progesterone, and breast cancer risk. Hormones are critical in normal breast development, but are also major drivers of breast cancer risk. Her work on the non-overlapping roles of these hormones in normal breast, particularly in stem/progenitor cells, but their convergence in breast cancer, challenges current thinking and shows that our understanding of hormone action in the human breast needs urgent re-evaluation. Her findings have direct implications for women taking hormones in oral contraceptives and menopause replacement, and also addresses prevention and/or treatment options in breast cancer.

Other Affiliations

Sydney Medical School > Westmead Clinical School > Westmead Clinical School

Awards and Recognition

  • 2016-19 – National Breast Cancer Foundation Career Development Fellowship
  • 2016-17 – Cure Cancer Australia Foundation / Cancer Australia (PdCCRS) project grant
  • 2014 – Westmead Millennium Institute Creative Prize Award
  • 2014 – Westmead Association Travel Grant
  • 2014 – CASS Foundation Travel Grant
  • 2013 – Cancer Institute NSW Sydney West Translational Cancer Research Centre Conference Support
  • 2012-15 – National Breast Cancer Foundation Postdoctoral Training Fellowship
  • 2011 – Cure Cancer Australia Foundation / Cancer Australia (PdCCRS) project grant
  • 2011 – University of Sydney Early Career Researchers & New Staff Grant Scheme


  • BSc (Molecular Biology and Genetics) Honours 1st Class (Biochemistry), University of Sydney
  • PhD (Medicine), Garvan Institute, UNSW, Sydney