The long-standing research focus of Laurence J. Miller, M.D., has been in the area of G protein-coupled hormone receptor structure, function and regulation. This has focused particularly on cholecystokinin (CCK)-gastrin and secretin-vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP)-glucagon-like peptide families of peptides and receptors. These receptors are important for nutritional homeostasis, digestion, metabolism and cell growth.
- G protein-coupled receptors and drug development. Dr. Miller's most unique contributions to this area have been in applying photochemistry and molecular pharmacological techniques to probe the molecular basis of drug action and the 3D structure of ligand-receptor complexes. This has substantial implications for the development of receptor-active drugs that possess unique selectivities and spectra of biological activities. This has provided unique opportunities to impact obesity, diabetes, functional dyspepsia, and various malignant tumors of the pancreas and colon.
- Receptor signaling and regulation. Dr. Miller is also an expert in the areas of receptor signaling and receptor regulation by biochemical and cellular mechanisms. These often differ in distinct types of cells, as well as in pathological states versus healthy cells. Characterization of these processes has provided still other potential opportunities for therapeutic interventions in these diseases. This work also has major implications for the development of diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers, selective imaging agents, therapeutic targeting, and novel drug design.
Significance to patient care
G protein-coupled receptors are the largest group of cell surface receptors, as they are present on virtually every excitable cell in the body. As such, they represent the predominant target for existing approved drugs, and the most common target for drugs now being developed.
Dr. Miller's work is key to understanding how drugs work, as it provides molecular insights that are useful for the enhancement of existing drug candidates and for the development of new drugs that are better, safer and more effective. These insights are relevant to a broad variety of diseases, many of which are quite common and have a major impact on health.
- Adjunct professor, Monash University, 2007-present
- Adjunct professor of biomedical informatics, Arizona State University, 2006-present
- Associate editor and editorial board member, Molecular Pharmacology, 2002-present
- Director, HEALTH Program in association with Arizona State University, 2010-2016
- Clinical, Integrative and Molecular Gastroenterology study section, National Institutes of Health (NIH), 2009-2011
- Scientific advisory board, Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, 2007-2016
- MERIT Award, NIH, 2001-2011
- Dean of research, Mayo Clinic Arizona, 2002-2010
- Board of advisors, Arizona State University Technopolis, 2005-2010
- Distinguished Investigator Award, Mayo Clinic, 2008
- Gastrointestinal Cell and Molecular Biology study section, NIH, 2007-2009
- Deputy director, Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center, and director, Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center in Arizona, 2002-2007
- President, American Pancreatic Association, 2002-2003
- Karl F. and Marjory Hasselmann Endowment Fund for a Research Professor, 2002
- General Medicine A2 study section, NIH, 1995-1999