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Matthew J. Hilton, PhD

Matthew J. Hilton, PhD
Associate Professor in Orthopaedic Surgery
Associate Professor in Cell Biology

Lab site: http://www.thehiltonlab.com/

A long-term interest of the Hilton Laboratory is to uncover the molecular circuitry regulating lineage commitment, proliferation, and differentiation of skeletal stem cells, cartilage cells (chondrocytes), and bone cells (osteoblasts). Dr. Hilton's lab uses genetic and surgical mouse models as well as primary cell culture techniques coupled with molecular biology and biochemistry to answer questions regarding skeletal stem cell self-renewal and differentiation, chondrogenesis, and osteoblastogenesis. The Hilton Lab’s research focus is divided into three overlapping research programs that include: Skeletal Development, Skeletal Disease, and Skeletal Injury, Repair, and Regeneration.

The Hilton Laboratory is affiliated with the Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Cell Biology as part of the Duke Orthopaedic Cellular, Developmental, and Genome Laboratories within the Duke University School of Medicine.

The Hilton Lab has recently developed a novel, patent-pending technology for the isolation, maintenance, and expansion of skeletal stem cells for eventual use in orthopaedic regenerative medicine applications.

Current Projects

  • In our Skeletal Development program, projects focused on identifying the mechanisms by which several cell signaling factors: inhibit cartilage formation; induce chondrocyte trans-differentiation; promote osteochondroma tumor formation; and regulate digit number and identity
  • In our Skeletal Disease program, projects aimed at understanding the mechanisms associated with joint cartilage maintenance and osteoarthritis
  • In our Skeletal Injury, Repair, and Regeneration program, projects geared toward elucidating: the cellular and molecular mechanisms of fracture and critical sized bone defect repair; novel approaches to the isolation, maintenance, and expansion of skeletal stem cells for use in orthopaedic regenerative medicine applications; and the appropriate means for integrating biologics and biomaterials to induce skeletal regeneration and repair

Selected Publications & Grants




  • Matthew J. Hilton, PhD, Principal Investigator, Duke Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Cell Biology
  • Anthony J. Mirando, MS, Laboratory Manager, Duke Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Yinshi Ren, PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher, Duke Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Deepika Sharma, MS, Graduate Student, University of Rochester, Department of Biomedical Genetics
  • Jason Long, Graduate Student, Duke Department of Cell Biology, CMB Graduate Program
  • Abigail Leinroth, Graduate Student, Duke Department of Cell Biology, DSCB Graduate Program


Various positions are available in the Hilton Lab for postdoctoral researchers, graduate/medical students, and technicians interested in skeletal development, disease, and repair research. Postdoctoral and technician candidates should provide a cover letter, CV, and contact information for three professional references. Duke graduate and/or medical students should send an email stating your interest in a research rotation. Send to: Matthew J. Hilton, PhD, matthew.hilton@duke.edu


Levine Science Research Center, 450 Research Drive, Room B321c
DUMC 91009, Durham, NC 27710