Specialized Research Consultants

Additionally, Triton will draw on the knowledge and services of Specialized Research Consultants on the basis of expertise in areas of targeted research.

Russell T. Hill, Ph.D.

Dr. Russell T. Hill, Ph.D. is a molecular biologist and microbial ecologist with 18 years of experience in microbiology research, and is presently the Associate Director for the Center of Marine Biotechnology (COMB) at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (UMBI). He completed his Ph.D. in Microbiology at the premier research university in South Africa, the University of Cape Town, in the laboratory of Professor David Woods. His postdoctoral studies were in a leading laboratory at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, working with Dr. Rita R. Colwell, later to become the Director of the National Science Foundation.

He obtained a faculty position at the Center of Marine Biotechnology, University of University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute from 1992-1998 before moving to the Australian Institute of Marine Science where he was the Lead Microbiologist in a Program of Marine Drug Discovery. Dr. Hill later returned to the Center of Marine Biotechnology in 1998 where he is a tenured Associate Professor at COMB, and continues to lead an active NSF-funded research program on the microbiology of marine sponges. A particular focus of his research is the role of marine microbes in producing bioactive compounds with potential as pharmaceuticals.

Dr. Hill’s laboratory studies the role of symbiotic bacteria associated with marine invertebrates, in particular, sponges. Many important compounds with pharmaceutical potential have been discovered in sponges and other invertebrates. There is circumstantial evidence that in some cases the compounds of interest are produced, not by the sponges themselves, but by bacteria associated with the sponges. Dr. Hill has a major research project on the microbes associated with an Indonesian sponge that contains an anti-malarial compound, Manzamine A. He has isolated a microbe from the sponge that will economically produce the anti-malarial compounds on a large scale so that sponges do not have to be harvested to obtain the compound. A second important discovery was the isolation of the bacterium that produces an important anti-cancer compound currently in clinical trials in Europe. The compound was previously obtained by collecting a small mollusk which contains the compound and from which the “producer” microbe was isolated by the Hill group. These are the first and second cases where marine microbes have been isolated from invertebrates and found to produce important compounds first discovered in the invertebrates. These projects are in collaboration with Dr. Mark Hamann at the School of Pharmacy, The University of Mississippi. Dr. Hill’s research has resulted in 55 peer-reviewed journal articles, 2 patents pending and 18 book chapters. He is on the Editorial Board of two journals, including Applied and Environmental Microbiology, the leading journal in his field. He is a Fellow of the Society for Industrial Microbiology, recognized for distinguished career accomplishments and dedication to the advancement of the applied microbiological sciences. Dr. Hill is also a member of the Sigma Xi and the American Society for Microbiology and a past President of the Maryland Branch of this society.

Publications & Honors


Peter C. Hiestand, Ph.D.

Peter C. Hiestand studied Biochemistry in Vienna. Following a 5 year stage at the Medical school, Department of Biochemistry at Northwestern University, he accepted a position as research investigator at the Department of Cell Biology, Sandoz Pharmaceuticals in Basel, Switzerland. After the merger of Sandoz with Ciba, he became a Senior Research Scientist at the Departments of Immunology and Inflammation, Transplantation and Autoimmune Diseases, Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

He started out doing protein Biochemistry to identify cellular messengers but changed rapidly to Immunology and Immunopharmacology. There he became project leader, compound champion and contributed to a number of international project teams. He is the author of more than 80 publications and holds numerous patents. For his work in basic research and drug development in the field of autoimmune disorders he received awards such as the Neuroscience award and the Novartis Global Team award.