Amber was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her interest in science, art and entrepreneurship have been fostered from childhood. Her family is largely comprised of doctors and craftsmen who created businesses from their disciplines. Amber has always pursued science and arts, where she focused on them separately, or together.
In secondary school, she was a member of the Medical and Allied Health Academy, which at the time included science, engineering, and health related fields. However, for her general elective classes (knowledge-expansion classes), Amber chose to study art courses taught by professional artists. She joined the National Art Honors Society and was able to practice painting and fine-tuning techniques outside of her elective courses. At age 17, Amber was encouraged by the head of the National Art Honors Society at her school, to submit one of her paintings into a national art competition called ARTiculate. Her painting was selected by a panel of professional arts judges as a State Painting Finalist in the competition. This gave her the confidence to continue painting and pursuing the arts in college. The following year, Amber received an academic scholarship to attend a liberal arts university called, Denison University, pursuing dual degrees in Psychology and Studio Art. During her first year of undergraduate education, she enrolled in several painting courses taught by professional artists and also explored dance classes and workshops.
During the summer of her first year of undergraduate education, she received a Howard Hughes Research Scholarship. This scholarship initiated her involvement in summer science internships in laboratories at Denison and Vanderbilt Universities. Each internship included an artistic element of the research. In the first internship, she designed animations for a computational program to test cross-classified knowledge and learning. In the second internship, she used photographic images in a survey that participants took whilst having an MRI scan, to assess emotional bias in mood disorders. However, for Amber’s third internship, she chose to explore business and marketing. She took on a direct sales position at Vector Marketing Corporation. During that summer she became a top sales representative in the United States (photographed above) and briefly became an assistant manager in the company the following summer.
In 2007, Amber’s interest in neurology peaked when members of her family became progressively ill. She decided to replace the Studio Art side of her degree with dual degrees in neuroscience and chemistry. In 2009, Amber was awarded a bachelors degree in Psychology, Chemistry, and Neuroscience (major, minor and concentration in subsequent order). The following year, she earned her Master of Science (MSc) in Clinical Neuroscience (Distinction/Summa Cum Laude) at the University of Roehampton in London (which is predominantly known for its art and science programmes). In 2010, Amber started working in a laboratory at the University College London researching neuroinflammatory illnesses.
Art and Science
In 2011, Amber reunited her passion for science with her love for the arts. She founded a social enterprise called Movement for Hope (MfH). MfH designs and implements art-science events that increase support for neurology and people with brain and spinal cord illnesses (i.e. neurological conditions). The organisation grew an extensive portfolio of patient and public engagement and research communications activities.
Following the start of MfH in 2011, Amber was awarded a prestigious full scholarship funded by the Grand Challenge Studentship and Overseas Research Scholarship to pursue a PhD in Biomedical Neuroscience at one of the world’s leading institutions, University College London (UCL). During the first year she took nearly all of her PhD elective courses and entrepreneurship courses that UCL offered, led by serial entrepreneurs and investors.
Amber’s PhD started to develop in 2012, her protocol-development year. Her project was a translational (pre-clinical to clinical) project focused on monitoring early biomarkers of mitochondrial dysfunction in Multiple Sclerosis, using high field magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy combined with histology. In her first year as a PhD student, she became the youngest and only non-doctorate Clinical Editor at Remedica Medical Education and Publishing, Current Medical Literature: Multiple Sclerosis, where she contributed journal reviews monthly for three years. Following this, she wrote and published a chapter section for a neuroscience book called Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy: Tools for Neuroscience Research and Emerging Clinical Applications, with leading researchers in MRI-based neuroscience.
Amber continued to exhibit her paintings at science events and in hospitals. She also directed several art-science projects at MfH. By her second year of PhD, she was featured speaker at TEDxUCL presenting on the topic of on uniting art and science through a concept of movement. It was a topic entirely separate from her PhD studies, rather showcasing her continued use of science and art together.
By 2014, Amber was working on her PhD and simultaneously running MfH. At that time, MfH had an awareness-education reach of over 100,500 people, an adaptive equipment impact of 153 people, and completed projects in Europe, North America, Africa, and Asia, which were all collaboratively developed by patients, researchers and artists. In addition, MfH was almost entirely funded by its own events and services rather than investment or grant funding.
In 2015, Amber translated her MfH work in a clinical setting, where she worked for the UCL/UCLH Leonard Wolfson Experimental Neurology Centre, Clinical Research Facility developing a new patient and public involvement, engagement, and science communication programme. In 2017, she worked for the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging (formerly, Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging) developing a new cohesive strategy for public engagement.
Awards and Honours
Amber has received several honours and awards for her research, art-science work, and innovative business ideas. These include an EPSRC Impact Acceleration Award to increase the impact of her PhD work, and a PhD Enterprise Award to test the commercial viability of a neurological deficit scoring prototype that she developed during her PhD. She has also been featured on several discussion panels at Imperial College London for Moon Symphony by Paul Gladstone Reid, a collaboration between NASA, Google and leading scientists, philosophers and artists exploring lunar concepts through music. She was also awarded UCL Step Out Award to direct an art-science dance piece developed from patient interviews, and she previously received a Wellcome Trust grant (via UCL Public Engagement’s Train and Engage) to exhibit her paintings in an art-science exhibition called Paint Aware. For her business ideas, Amber has most recently been awarded a HEFCE, UnLtd, and UCLB Proof of Concept Award to scale the impact of MfH. She also had the honour of being a judge at UCL Advances Summer Entrepreneurathon 2014 and a judge at UCL’s Global Citizenship Programme 2014 and 2015.
Overall, Amber aims to one day build a legacy for bridging neuroscience, art and technology innovations to improve lives and global biomedical R&D industries.
"Amber is an incredibly hard-working, dedicated and capable individual. She is not only creative and inspiring, but knows how to translate innovative ideas and concepts into real-world projects that always deliver their aims and objectives. I have been involved in a long-term collaborative project with Amber and have always been impressed by the energy and effort she has dedicated to it. As such, I very much look forward to working with her for the foreseeable future, both on this project and others as they develop."− Jennifer Pate, Director at Your Frontier; Project & Events Officer at UKERC Meeting Place, University of Oxford
"I have worked with many amazing professionals in my career, and Amber-Michelle Hill is among them. Amber is a caring, knowledgeable, and professional. She has shown a great deal of support for the Huntington's disease community, and her ability and desire to work with diverse populations are key. "− James Valvano, International Operation Director at We Have A Face
"Amber has proven to be a bright, resourceful and innovative scientist who has an extensive knowledge of MS models"− Professor Olga Ciccarelli, UCL Institute of Neurology, Department of Brain Repair and Rehabilitation