Remembering Dr. Richard (Dick) Hill

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Renowned cancer researcher, esteemed leader and dedicated mentor leaves a lasting legacy.

Dr. Richard (Dick) Hill is being remembered as a leading radiation and tumour biology researcher and as a valued mentor to many at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and beyond. Dr. Hill’s long history with PM dates back to the late 1960s and saw him make major contributions to both cancer science and academia as a Professor at the University of Toronto.

He passed away Sunday after a lengthy battle with myeloma.

Dr. Hill was an expert in the role of hypoxia and the tumour microenvironment on radiation response, malignant tumor progression and the development of metastases. His work earned him tremendous accolades including one of the country’s top cancer research awards in 2007—the Canadian Cancer Society Robert L. Noble Prize. In 2011, he was recognized on the international stage, when he was awarded the Henry S. Kaplan Distinguished Scientist Award from the International Association for Radiation Research.

His contributions to the field also include co-authoring The Basic Science of Oncology—a definitive textbook that has been lauded as the “bible” for oncology study, has sold tens of thousands of copies worldwide and been translated into various languages.

“Dick was a force around Princess Margaret for decades,” says Dr. Michael Milosevic, a colleague and friend of Dr. Hills’. “He had this intrinsic belief that research had to cross the clinical barrier—that divide between the lab and the clinic—in order to have an impact on patients. Dick was thinking about that well before many others.”

With a degree from St Bartholomew’s Hospital at London University, Dr. Hill completed his post-doctoral training at the Princess Margaret (then known as the Ontario Cancer Institute) in 1970. He became staff in 1973 and in 1987 was appointed as a Professor in the University of Toronto’s department of Medical Biophysics. Given his translational research focus, he was later cross-appointed to the Department of Radiation Oncology.

Dr. Hill was also the first recipient of a mentorship award at UHN which now bears his name. The award is provided annually by UHN’s Princess Margaret Cancer Centre to a faculty member that demonstrates excellence in supporting, training and mentoring the next generation of health professionals.

To read Dr. Hill’s obituary, which was published in the Globe and Mail, click here.