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Cecilia Hillard, PhD

Cecilia Hillard, PhD

Plenary Presenter

Cecilia J. Hillard, PhD, grew up in the suburbs of Milwaukee and credits her high school chemistry teacher for starting her on the journey to be a scientist. Dr. Hillard received her undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Virginia and her PhD in pharmacology from the Medical College of Wisconsin. Dr. Hillard is currently professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, director of the Neuroscience Research Center, and associate dean for research at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Her laboratory has long-standing interests in the pharmacology of the cannabinoids and the biochemistry of endocannabinoid signaling. Her laboratory contributed some of the early evidence for catabolism and cellular accumulation of the endocannabinoids. Her laboratory has explored the roles of endocannabinoid signaling in many aspects of brain function, including emotional regulation, addiction, and neuroinflammation. She and her colleagues have reported seminal findings regarding the role of the endocannabinoids in multiple preclinical models, including multiple sclerosis, depression, and anxiety.

Recently, she has been collaborating with others to explore changes in circulating endocannabinoids in humans, with the goal of using this as a translational measure of endocannabinoid tone. Her work has been funded continuously by NIH since 1987, and she has published over 200 peer-reviewed, original papers. Dr. Hillard received the 2011 Mechoulam Award for outstanding research in the area of cannabinoids and endocannabinoids and the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award, both from the International Cannabinoid Research Society.