Isaac Hilton | AIChE

Isaac Hilton

Assistant Professor
Rice University

Isaac Hilton is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Bioengineering and BioSciences at Rice University. In 2018 he earned a start-up recruitment award from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) to start his lab at Rice University. Work in the Hilton lab is focused on illuminating fundamental principles of human gene regulation and repurposing these principles to engineer cellular behaviors and treat human diseases. To achieve these research objectives, members of the Hilton lab develop and apply genome and epigenome editing technologies, functional genomics, and emerging synthetic biology tools. 

As a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Center for Genomic and Computational Biology at Duke University, Hilton and colleagues developed programmable CRISPR/Cas9-based epigenome editing technologies. While at Duke Hilton also earned the Center for Biomolecular and Tissue Engineering Postdoctoral Achievement Award. Isaac completed his graduate training within the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While at UNC Isaac was awarded NIH training grants in both Genetics and Virology to study functional genomics, gene regulation, and tumor virology.


Appropriately coordinated patterns of gene expression drive cellular behaviors and consequently control the balance between human health and disease. Despite this overarching and clinically actionable importance, our understanding of how human genes are expressed, and how this expression can be engineered; remains incomplete. In the Hilton lab we work to engineer gene expression within human cells and control how epigenomic regulatory forces - including transcription factor dynamics, biochemical modifications to chromatin and DNA, and the structure of the genome itself - converge to control how genes are turned on and off. Our efforts span three highly inter-related areas: i) Developing new technologies to precisely manipulate epigenetic marks, chromatin structure, and transcriptional networks in human cells; ii) decoding basic mechanisms governing gene regulation in human health and disease; and iii) engineering genetic sequences and epigenomic activity to model human diseases and create new therapeutics.

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