Professor & Associate Director, Michael Smith Laboratories
Neural stem cells; neurotrophin regulation of neuronal survival growth and connectivity p53 family in the nervous system molecular regulation of neurogenesis
Dr. Miller is best known for her work on dermal and neural stem cells and on mechanisms that regulate neuronal survival and growth. Her discovery of dermal stem cells provided insights into the mechanisms underlying skin maintenance and repair and contributed to providing the conceptual basis for using skin as a major source for genesis of human stem cells. At the same time, Dr. Miller discovered new mechanisms determining whether nerve cells live or die, findings that have implications for our understanding of neurodegenerative disorders. Finally, Dr. Miller has made significant contributions to understanding how stem cells build the brain during normal development and how this goes awry in neurodevelopmental disorders. This led to her recent discovery that the commonly used diabetes drug metformin can recruit endogenous neural precursors and in so doing can promote repair of the injured brain. Together, these discoveries led to clinical trials for therapies that “wake up” our own stem cells to repair the injured brain and skin and to the co-founding of two biotechnology companies.