The Jill E. Hungerford, Ph.D. Prize in Biomedical Sciences is awarded to a student who closely emulates Jill’s scholarship and vitality. Jill Hungerford, Ph.D., was a gifted young scientist with a passion for her work and for her life. She sparkled with energy and determination. She was devoted to her research, but also to her husband, David Thomas, M.D., to her family, and to her her many extracurricular activities, including tennis, hiking, and gardening. Jill’s life was tragically cut short by cancer at the age of 34. The Jill E. Hungerford, Ph.D. Prize in Biomedical Sciences, created by her parents, recognizes Jill’s commitment to medical science and seeks to nurture in others that same dedication. During her brief career, Jill received two motivational research awards, including the Andy Ford Award for Excellence in Pediatric Cardiology Research (at UVA) and an American Heart Association Scientist Development Grant.
Jill earned her doctorate in physiology in 1995 from UVA, where her research focused on smooth muscle cell development in the walls of blood vessels. Specifically, she focused on the process by which undifferentiated cells are directed to become part of the vessel wall and how the environment outside of the cell affects this development. She pursued this study on the molecular level, focusing largely on the process of cell-to-cell signaling. In 1997, Jill left UVA to continue her research at the John B. Pierce Laboratory and Yale University, where she continued to concentrate on the developmental biology of the cardiovascular system, especially integrating vascular physiology to define the fundamental relationships between structure and function in the developing vessel wall.
Jill was a committed researcher with a genuine love for her work that was reflected in her joyful presence in the lab and in her deep and abiding interest in those around her. In addition to her scientific achievements, Jill also consciously worked to become a positive role model for other young women in science. The Jill E. Hungerford, Ph.D. Prize in Biomedical Sciences recognizes her commitment, achievement, and passion for research aimed at broadening our scientific knowledge.
The Jill E. Hungerford, Ph.D. Prize is awarded annually to a doctoral student at Graduate Biosciences Research Day. The recipient receives a merit stipend from the Jill E. Hungerford, Ph..D Prize Endowment Fund, an award certificate, and has his or her name placed on an award plaque displayed in the Graduate Programs Office in UVA’s Jordan Hall.