School of Life Sciences

Hill Lab

Welcome to the Hill Laboratory homepage.

My research is focussed on the identification of biologically active chemicals which include chemical contaminants which impact animal health or chemical signals which alter animal behaviour.

A major research effort of my group is the study of the interactions between environmental contaminants and wildlife and human health. We have been developing innovative mass spectrometry techniques (nanoflow/nanospray LC-MS) to profile low abundant compounds such as signalling metabolites and chemical contaminants in blood and urine. Current projects include understanding how faecal metabolites (the metabolome) change in patients with colorectal cancer, and whether we can predict the onset of acute kidney injury in patients undergoing cardiac surgery.

We are also interested in how biologically active contaminants such as estrogens and antiandrogens influence sexual differentiation of fish in rivers and estuaries of the UK and other countries. Many of these endocrine disrupting chemicals arise from discharges of wastewater effluents into surface waters or runoff from agricultural operations.To investigate the mixtures of environmental chemicals accumulating in the environment and in biota, we use bioassay directed fractionation to semi purify receptor active fractions prior to and as well as chemical profiling techniques (xenometabolomics).  Our work has shown that androgen receptor blocking chemicals are ubiquitous in the environment  and can accumulate in fish and human tissues. Together with estrogens, they may cause intersexuality and feminize male fish. Some of this work has been funded by the Interreg IV programme (see my research page)

Similar types of estrogenic and antiandrogenic contaminants can also be found in human tissues including placenta. There is concern that chemicals with androgen receptor blocking activity may affect the health of male newborns resulting in cryptorchism and hypospadia. In adult life, other problems such as lowering of sperm counts or testicular germ cell cancer may occur. We are using LC-MS and chemical 'omics approaches to understand the human exposome and how the different mixtures of chemical contaminants present in tissues could cause disease.

We also collaborate with scientists at Sussex studying insect behaviour to determine how pheromones influence ant trails and recognition of food, and we are involved in projects determining the effects of neonicotinoid insecticide exposure on the health of pollinator insects.





Professor Elizabeth Hill
Professor of Environmental Toxicology
University of Sussex
John Maynard Smith Building
Brighton, BN1 9QG
+44 (0)1273 678382


New papers published on novel nanoflow/nanospray analytical methodology for chemical and metabolite profiling:

Chetwynd, A.J; Abdul-Sada, A.; Hill, E.M. 2015. Solid phase extraction and nanoflow liquid chromatography-nanoelectrospray ionisation mass spectrometry for improved global urine metabolomics. Anal. Chem. 87 (2):1158-1165 

David, A.; Abdul-Sada, A.; Lange, A.; Tyler, C. R.; Hill, E. M., 2014 A new approach for plasma (xeno)metabolomics based on solid-phase extraction and nanoflow liquid chromatography-nanoelectrospray ionisation mass spectrometry. J. Chrom. A. 1365, 72-85.

Chetwynd, A. J.; David, A.; Hill, E. M.; Abdul-Sada, A., 2014.  Evaluation of analytical performance and reliability of direct nanoLC-nanoESI-high resolution mass spectrometry for profiling the (xeno)metabolome. J.Mass Spectrom. 49, (10), 1063-1069.

Other publications this year:

Arrebola JP, Molina-Molina JM, Fernandez MF, Saenz JM, Amaya E, Indiveri P, Hill EM, Scholze M, Orton F, Kortenkamp A, Olea N (2015) A novel biomarker for anti-androgenic activity in placenta reveals risks of urogenital malformations. Reproduction 149 (6):605-613 

Alvarez-Muñoz, D; Indiveri, P; Rostkowski, P;Horwood, J; Greer, E; Minier, C; Pope, N; Langston, B; Hill, E.M. 2015. Widespread contamination of coastal sediments in the Transmanche Channel with anti-androgenic compounds. Mar. Poll. Bull. 95 (2): 590-597.

Hartley, S. E.; Eschen, R.; Horwood, J. M.; Gange, A. C.; Hill, E. M., 2015  Infection by a foliar endophyte elicits novel arabidopside-based plant defence reactions in its host, Cirsium arvense. New Phytol. 205, (2), 816-827.