Massimo Hilliard received his PhD in Biological Chemistry and Molecular Biology in 2001 from the University of Naples, Italy, working under the supervision of Dr Paolo Bazzicalupo. He then undertook postdoctoral training with Prof William Schafer at the University of California San Diego, and with Prof Cori Bargmann at the University of California San Francisco and Rockefeller University.
In 2007, he was appointed as a Senior Research Fellow at the Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland, where he has established his independent laboratory. He was subsequently awarded an ARC Future Fellowship, and in 2015 was promoted to Associate Professor and awarded a NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship. In 2019, he was promoted to Professor.
During his career Prof Hilliard has focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms that regulate neuronal development, maintenance, and repair, using C. elegans as a model system. His laboratory has identified the molecular mechanisms that regulate axonal fusion, an axonal repair event in which the two separated fragments of an injured axon rejoin and reconstitute the original tract.
His research has been funded by the NIH, NHMRC, and ARC, and his discoveries have been published in top tier journals, including Nature and Science.