James E.K. Hildreth, Internal Advisory Board Member
Dean, College of Biological Sciences
James E.K. Hildreth is the dean of the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences and professor in the departments of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Internal Medicine.
Dean Hildreth has been affiliated with a string of prestigious universities, earning his bachelor degree from Harvard University in 1979, his doctorate from Oxford University in immunology in 1982 as a Rhodes Scholar, and his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1987. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences.
Before coming to UC Davis he was an immunologist and professor, and directed the Center for AIDS Health Disparities Research, at Meharry Medical College in Tennessee. Prior to that Dean Hildreth was a tenured professor and Associate Dean at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Hildreth’s area of expertise is how HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, enters cells and causes infection. In 2001, while serving as chief of the Division of Research for the National Institute of Health’s National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, Hildreth and his research team made an important discovery related to HIV, which causes AIDS.
The team found that cholesterol is active in HIV’s ability to penetrate cells and that removing the fatty material from a cell’s membrane can block infection. Hildreth’s team has used this discovery as the basis for developing topical microbicides — or chemical condoms — to block transmission of the virus.