Professor Colin Hill’s internationally acclaimed research on developing new natural antimicrobials has been recognised through UCC’s Career Achievement Research Award, which celebrates researchers who have made exceptional and very influential research contributions, pushing boundaries, enhancing knowledge and raising the national and international profile of University College Cork.
Colin has published more than 570 research articles and has been recognised by Clarivate as one of the top 1% of researchers globally (2018 & 2019). He has demonstrated a flare for translating fundamental microbiological processes into practical food and pharma applications. He is an inventor on 23 patents and his research findings were the basis of a spin-out company, Artugen Therapeutics. During his career to date, Colin has secured over €25 million worth of research funding, in individual grants and as a co-Principal Investigator in the APC Microbiome Ireland SFI Research Centre. He has supervised 55 PhD students and 28 MSc students to date and is currently supervising 10 PhD students, and 2 MSc students.
Colin has pioneered the discovery, fundamental characterization and application of bacteriocins, a class of anti-microbials that kill bacteria. His team discovered the two-component bacteriocin lacticin3147, which has activity against antibiotic-resistant gram-positive bacteria. His group discovered Thuricin CD, an anti-microbial produced by Bacillus thuringiensis, with clinical applications in treating C. difficile infections. His group was also first to identify that a bacteriocin was responsible for a probiotic mechanism that prevents Listeria monocytogenes infection (in a murine model).
Colin has also contributed significantly to the human virome field by developing lab-based and in silico tools for gut virome analysis. His recent research described the taxonomy of crAss-like phage (the most abundant phage in the human gut) and his group successfully performed phage therapy in vivo. Using state of the art bioinformatics, Prof. Hill’s research has increased the number of known ssRNA phage genomes from 12 to over a thousand. He has conducted the first longitudinal study on the virome in human subjects to see how it changes over time and his group performed the first whole virome analysis of patients with inflammatory bowel disease.
Together with his collaborators at APC Microbiome Ireland, Colin is exploiting these biological tools, of anti-microbials and bacteriophage) to enhance food safety and to sculpt, manipulate and modulate microbiomes from human and animal sources for enhanced health outcomes.
Colin Hill is a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and has served as President of the International Scientific Association for Prebiotics and Probiotics (ISAPP) (2012–2015). He received the Elie Metchnikoff IDF International Prize in Microbiology (2010).