Virginia M. Miller, Ph.D., serves as director of the Sex Differences Research laboratory, with Walter A. Rocca, M.D., as co-director. This shared responsibility sets the pattern for partnerships between a basic scientist and clinical investigator that is carried through the leadership of all projects of the SCOR and this laboratory. Dr. Miller's research focuses on estrogenic modulation of endothelial function, platelet and microvesicle function, and sex/gender differences in cardiovascular control. She advocates for basic scientists to be involved in clinical research and for the need of research on sex differences.
She was the first director of the Office of Women's Health at Mayo Clinic and is currently the principal investigator for the Mayo Clinic site of the multicenter KEEPS trial and research director for the Mayo Clinic BIRCWH award. She has held leadership positions in the American Physiological Society and is immediate past president of the Organization for the Study of Sex Differences. Through this organization, she works with science policy committees to promote research on sex differences within study sections at the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Rocca's research focuses on genetic and environmental risk and protective factors for dementia and Parkinson's disease. In addition, he has extensive experience with projects addressing the effects of surgical menopause and estrogen therapy on brain-aging processes in women. Dr. Rocca is the principal investigator of the Rochester Epidemiology Project and co-investigator for the Alzheimer's Disease Patient Registry — the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging. He currently serves as chair of the Clinical Research Subcommittee and member of the Science Committee for the American Academy of Neurology.
He has worked closely with Dr. Miller as a member of the executive committee for the Mayo Clinic BIRCWH. His ongoing collaborations with members of all three projects of Sex Differences research provide an in-depth understanding of the SCOR. In addition, his role as a member of the Mayo Clinic Women's Health Research Center and of the Community Engagement Council of the Mayo Clinic Center for Translational Science Activities provides additional opportunities for mentoring and dissemination of research results, including concepts of sex-differences research, to community stakeholders.