Dr. Rob Hilgers

Assistant Professor
Pharmaceutical Sciences
College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences
Office Address:
JP Riddle Building
Mailing Address:
PO Box 1090
Buies Creek, NC 27506


Dr. Rob Hilgers obtained his Ph.D degree in Pharmacology at the University of Maastricht, the Netherlands in 2004. He has substantial postdoctoral research experience in cardiovascular-related diseases conducted at prestigious universities in Europe and the United States. His particular interests involves studying the molecular mechanisms of endothelial dysfunction in resistance arteries in experimental animal models of hypertension, aging and obesity-induced diabetes.His main expertise is the application of myograph systems to assess ex vivo vascular reactivity and structure in correlation with pharmacological interventions. He is particularly interested in the role of endothelial calcium-activated potassium channels in relation to cellular redox status.


  • B.Sc, Hogeschool Zuyd, Heerlen, the Netherlands
  • Ph.D. University of Maastricht, Maastricht, the Netherlands


  • Marie Curie Fellowship (2002), Paris, France

Awards, Recognition & Honors

  • Graduate Student Travel Award of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) at the Experimental Biology ’01, Orlando, FL, March 31-April 4, 2001.
  • Young Investigator Award European Council for Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Research (ECCR), Seeheim, Germany, October 10-12, 2003.
  • Graduate Student Travel Award of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) at the Experimental Biology ’05, San Diego, CA, April 2-6, 2005.
  • Graduate Student Travel Award of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) at the Experimental Biology ’06, San Francisco, CA, April 1-5, 2006.


  • American Association Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • American Heart Association
  • American Physiological Society


  • Dunn SM, Hilgers RH, Das KC. Decreased EDHF-mediated relaxation is a major mechanism in endothelial dysfunction in resistance arteries in aged mice on prolonged high fat sucrose diet. Physiological Reports 5 (23), 2017, e13502.
  • Hilgers RH, Kundumani-Sridharan V, Subramani J, Chen LC, Cuello LG, Rusch NJ, Das KC. Thioredoxin reverses age-related hypertension by chronically improving vascular redox and restoring eNOS function. Science 8 Transl Med. 2017 Feb 8;9(376). doi: 10.1126/
  • Subramani J, Kundumani-Sridharan V, Hilgers RH, Owens C, Das KC. Thioredoxin uses a GSH-independent route to deglutathionylate endothelial nitric oxide synthase and protects against myocardial infarction. J Biol Chem. 2016; 291: 23374-23389.
  • Hilgers RH and Das KC. Role of in vivo vascular redox state in resistance arteries. Hypertension. 2015;65: 130-139.
  • Pacurari M, Xing D, Hilgers RH, Guo YY, Yang Z, Hage FG. Endothelial cell transfusion ameliorates endothelial dysfunction in 5/6 nephrectomized rats. Am J Physiol. 2013; 305: H1256-64
  • Hilgers RH, Oparil S, Wouters W, and Coelingh Bennink H. Vasodilator Effects of estetrol (E4) in rat arteries. J Endocrinol. 2012; 215: 97-106
  • Hilgers RH, Xing D, Gong K, Chen YF, Chatham JC, and Oparil S. Acute O-GlcNAcylation prevents inflammation-induced vascular dysfunction. Am J Physiol. 2012; 303: H513-522.
  • Gong K, Xing D, Li P, Hilgers RH, Hage FG, Oparil, and Chen YF. cGMPinhibits TGF-beta signaling by sequestering Smad3 with cytosolic beta2-tubulin in pulmonary artery smooth muscle cells. Mol Endocrinol. 2011;25: 1794-1803.
  • Zemse SM, Chiao CW, Hilgers RH, and Webb RC. Interleukin-10 inhibits the in vivo and in vitro adverse effects of TNFalpha on the endothelium of murine aorta. Am J Physiol. 2010; 299: H1160-1167.
  • Hilgers RH, Janssen GM, and De Mey JGR. 24-hour exposure to altered blood flow modifies endothelial Ca2+-activated K+ channels in the rat mesenteric arteries. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2010; 333: 210-217.
  • Hilgers RH and De Mey JGR. Myoendothelial coupling in the mesenteric arterial bed; segmental differences and interplay between nitric oxide and endothelin-1. Br J Pharmacol. 2009; 156: 1239-1247.
  • Zemse SM, Hilgers RH, Simkins GB, Rudic RD, Webb RC. Restoration of endothelin-1 induced impairment in endothelium-dependent relaxation by Interleukin-10 in murine aortic rings. Can. J. Physiol. Pharmacol. 2008;86:557-565.
  • Hilgers RH, Todd J Jr, Webb RC. Increased PDZ-RhoGEF/RhoA/Rho Kinase Signaling in Small Mesenteric Arteries of Angiotensin II-Induced Hypertensive Rats. J Hypertens. 2007;25:1687-1697.
  • Zemse SM, Hilgers RH, Webb RC. Interleukin-10 counteracts impaired endothelium-dependent relaxation induced by ANG II in murine aortic rings. Am J Physiol. 2007;292:H3103-8.
  • Hilgers RH, Webb RC. Reduced expression of SKCa and IKCa channel proteins in rat small mesenteric arteries during angiotensin II-induced hypertension. Am J Physiol. 2007;292:H2275-84.
  • Megens RTA, Reitsma S, Schiffers PHM, Hilgers RH, De Mey JGR, Slaaf DW, oude Egbrink MGA, van Zandvoort MAMJ. Two-photon microscopy of vital murine elastic and muscular arteries. Combined structural and functional imaging with subcellular imaging. J Vasc Res. 2006;44:87-98.
  • Jin L, Ying Z, Hilgers RH, Yin J, Zhao X, Imig J, Webb RC. Increased RhoA/Rho-kinase signaling mediates spontaneous tone in aorta from angiotensin II-induced hypertensive rats. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2006;318:288-95.
  • Hilgers RH, Todd J Jr, Webb RC. Regional heterogeneity in acetylcholineinduced relaxation in rat vascular bed: role of calcium-activated K+ channels. Am J Physiol. 2006;291:H216-22.
  • Bergaya S, Hilgers RH, Meneton P, Dong Y, Bloch-Faure M, Inagami T, Alhenc-Gelas F, Lévy BI, Boulanger CM. Flow-dependent dilation mediated by endogenous kinins requires angiotensin AT2 receptors. Circ Res. 2004;94:1623-29.
  • Hilgers RH, Schiffers PM, Aartsen WM, Fazzi GE, Smits JF, De Mey JG. Tissue angiotensin-converting enzyme in imposed and physiological flow related arterial remodeling in mice. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol.2004;24:892-7.
  • Aartsen WM, Hilgers RH, Schiffers PM, Daemen MJ, De Mey JG, Smits JF. Changes in vascular distensibility during angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibition involve bradykinin type 2 receptors. J Vasc Res. 2004;41:18-27.
  • Hilgers RH, Bergaya S, Schiffers PM, Meneton P, Boulanger CM, Henrion D, Lévy BI, De Mey JG. Uterine artery structural and functional changes during pregnancy in tissue kallikrein-deficient mice. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2003;23:1826-32.
  • Invited Reviews in Journals Hilgers RH and RC Webb. Molecular aspects of arterial smooth muscle contraction: focus on Rho. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2005;230:829-35.
  • De Mey JG, Schiffers PM, Hilgers RH, Sanders MM. Toward functional genomics of flow-induced outward remodeling of resistance arteries. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2005;288(3):H1022-7.
  • Book Chapters Meaghan Bowling, Suzanne Oparil, Fadi Hage, Robert Hilgers and Dongqi Xing (2012. Sex Hormones and Vascular Function, Sex Hormones. Raghvendra K. Dubey (Ed.).