Sharon Hillier, PhD

Richard Sweet Professor of Reproductive Infectious Disease and Vice-Chair for Faculty Affairs, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Departments of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Director Reproductive Infectious Disease Research, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital


NIH-funded research emphasis areas in Dr. Hillier’s laboratory:

  • The evaluation and testing of topical microbicides for prevention of HIV. As the Site Support Laboratory Core for the Microbicide Trials Network, this lab provides support for clinical trials of microbicides at sites in the US, Asia and Africa. Activities include evaluation of STI diagnostics for use in clinical trials, evaluation of the impact of products on the vaginal microbiota, and the assessment of immune mediators in the female genital tract in relationship to vaginal product usage.
  • The identification and characterization of vaginal microbes, many of which are novel species, and their association with preterm birth and pelvic inflammatory disease. Recently, a novel microorganism found in women having bacterial vaginosis was named Mageeibacillus indolicus by Michele Austin in the laboratory. In collaboration with Dr. Wiesenfeld, the laboratory is characterizing novel organisms from the female genital tract associated with pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility including new species of Megasphaera and the novel microorganism called BVAB2. This work is being conducted in collaboration with Sujatha Srinivasan and David Fredricks of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, WA.
  • Flow cytometric analyses of endometrial and cervical tissues, and cervical cytobrushes for quantification and CD4 and CD8 cells. Studies are evaluating the impact of contraceptive usage on immune cells in the female reproductive tract. The laboratory is evaluating the impact of the levonorgestrol containing intrauterine system and the etonogestrol implant on immune cells in the genital tract, as well as the microbiota.
  • The development and evaluation of novel film formulations of antiretroviral drugs for prevention of HIV. In collaboration with Dr. Lisa Rohan, Dr. Hillier is working toward the development of vaginal films which could provide women with protection from HIV for one week after a single application In collaboration with Dr. Bernard Moncla, the Hillier laboratory is evaluating the impact of these products on the vaginal microbiome and its impact on the vaginal glycome.

Selected Publications

  • Hillier SL, Nyirjesy P, Waldbaum AS, Schwebke JR, Morgan FG, Adetoro NA, Braun CJ. Secnidazole treatment of bacterial vaginosis: a randomized controlled trial. Obstet Gynecol. 2017;130:379-386. PMID: 28697102.
  • Cosentino LA, Danby CS, Rabe LK, Macio I, Meyn LA, Wiesenfeld HC, Hillier SL. Use of nucleic acid amplification testing for the diagnosis of extragenital sexually transmitted infections: NAAT detection of stis in rectal and pharyngeal swabs. J Clin Microbiol. 2017;55:2801-2807. PMID: 28679521. PMCID: PMC5648715.
  • Beamer MA, Austin MN, Avolia HA, Meyn LA, Bunge KA, Hillier SL. Bacterial species colonizing the vagina of healthy women are not associated with race. Anaerobe. 2017;45:40-43. PMID: 28238844. PMCID: PMC5466894.
  • Petrina MAB, Cosentino LA, Rabe LK, Hillier SL. Susceptibility of bacterial vaginosis (BV) – associated bacteria to secnidazole compared to metronidazole, tinidazole and clindamycin. 2017;47:115-119. PMID: 28522362. PMCID: PMC5623164.
  • Chirenje ZM, Gundacker HM, Richardson B, Rabe L, Gaffoor Z, Nair GL, Mirembe BG, Piper JM, Hillier S, Marrazzo J. Risk factors for incidence of sexually transmitted infections among women in a HIV chemoprevention trial: VOICE (MTN-003). Sex Transm Dis. 2017;44:135-140. PMID: 28178109. PMCID: PMC5535309.
  • Taylor BD, Zheng X, O’Connell CM, Wiesenfeld HC, Hillier SL, Darville T. Risk factors for Mycoplasma genitalium endometritis and incident infection: a secondary data analysis of the T cell Response Against Chlamydia (TRAC) Study. Sex Transm Infect. 2018;pii: sextrans-2017-053376. PMID: 29563165.
  • Bunge KE, Dezzutti CS, Hendrix CW, Marzinke MA, Spiegel HML, Moncla BJ, Schwartz JL, Meyn LA, Richardson-Harman N, Rohan LC, Hillier SL. FAME-04: A Phase 1 trial to assess the safety, acceptability, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of film and gel formulations of tenofovir. J Int AIDS Soc. 2018;21:e25156. PMID: 30101439. PMCID: PMC6088248.
  • Chappell CA, Hillier SL, Crowe D, Meyn LA, Bogen DL, Krans EE. Hepatitis C virus screening among children exposed during pregnancy. Pediatrics. 2018;pii: e20173273. PMID: 29720535. PMCID: PMC5984711.
  • Achilles SL, Austin MN, Meyn LA, Mhlanga F, Chirenje ZM, Hillier SL. Impact of contraceptive initiation on vaginal microbiota. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2018;218:622.e1-622.e10. PMID: 29505773. PMCID: PMC5990849.
  • Achilles SL, Mhlanga FG, Musara P, Poloyac SM, Chirenje ZM, Hillier SL. Misreporting of contraceptive hormone use in clinical research participants. Contraception. 2018;97:346-353. PMID: 28966052. PMCID: PMC5858917.

For additional publications, see: