Principal Investigator

Benjamin L. Miller, Ph.D. University of Rochester work Box 697 601 Elmwood Ave Rochester NY 14642 office: MC 6-6820 p (585) 275-9805

Honors & News

  • December 7, 2016

    Illuminating the flu: A new technology could make it easier for researchers to fight a host of diseases

    Photo of AIR platform device

    A prototype of the AIR platform, which monitors

    strains of the flu virus in order to develop effective

    vaccines. [Permission granted by Benjamin Miller]

    To stop a flu epidemic before it starts, you've got to know your enemy. But for epidemiologists and vaccine developers involved in the annual fight against the flu, it's not enough to identify the mere presence of a flu virus. You've got to know exactly which virus you're dealing with and how widely it has spread.

    Figuring that out can be costly and difficult for scientists racing to contain a highly contagious disease, but an innovative, newly-patented test that needs only a drop of blood and a silicon chip offers hope for speeding up the process. And its inventor thinks his device, which may be on the market as early as next year, could be useful for detecting other diseases, too.

    What really excites me is having this tool that people come up to me with exciting applications that I haven't thought of — that really is neat to me, says Benjamin Miller, a dermatologist at the University of Rochester in New York.

  • September 15, 2016

    Miller Receives Patent for Technology that Can Help Detect Flu

    Benjamin L. Miller, Ph.D., professor of Dermatology, recently received yet another patent for a new technology that can detect miniscule amounts of specific molecules in blood or other liquids. The patent focuses on using this technology to make detecting immune responses to the flu quicker and easier.

    The AIR™ Platform, marketed by Adarza Biosystems, can detect immune responses to flu vaccines as well as the virus itself. With a small blood sample from a patient, doctors can confirm a flu infection, see if the patient mounts an appropriate immune response to a vaccine, or see if immune responses cross react with several different strains of flu. AIR™ can also be used for viral surveillance.

    While Miller's AIR™ system is not the first to make these things possible, it is a great improvement on previous technologies. Its silicon chip, which is only about the size of the end of a pencil eraser, allows scientists to detect hundreds of different target molecules in a single drop of fluid, and its label-free design requires fewer steps and reagents, thus reducing cost and opportunities for error.

    Label-free systems suppress background noise to detect tiny signals, whereas conventional labeled systems use a more cumbersome design to amplify a tiny signal, often creating a lot of background noise in the process.

    It's like walking through a city during the day and looking up at the buildings, Miller said. You have no idea what's going on in the offices because there's so much ambient light, but if you come back at night, it's easy to see.

    Miller suppresses background noise using a near-perfect anti-reflective coating on his silicon chips. For every 100 million photons of light that hit the surface of the chip, only one photon is reflected back. That coating also contains capture molecules meant to bind or capture specific target molecules, like antibodies produced in response to the flu virus. The more antibodies that bind to the chip, the more the anti-reflective coating is perturbed, and the more light is reflected and captured by a camera.

    This simple and unconventional design and the ability to use capture molecules both big and small makes AIR™ extremely versatile. From cancer and infectious diseases, to agriculture and food safety, AIR™ is poised to expedite research and clinical testing across a wide range of applications.

  • February 23, 2016

    The Future of Photonics

    As hundreds of millions of dollar pour into Rochester to establish the nation's first Photonics Hub, Mark Gruba has a closer look at the technology in a News 8 special report, "The Future of Photonics."

    Photonics is the science and technology of generating, controlling and detecting photons, which are particles of light. A display at the Rochester Museum & Science Center houses examples of its many applications. In one, a transmitter converts an audio signal from electrical pulses into light pulses. The laser beam sends that information to the receiver, which converts the light pulses back to electrical pulses and sends them to the speaker for your listening enjoyment.

    "We work on optical bio sensors," said Dr. Ben Miller, a researcher at the University of Rochester Medical Center. He's creating a sensor that can detect the presence of hundreds of viruses from a single blood sample, in real time. "We're working to make devices so that you can immediately get that information in the doctor's office," said Dr. Miller.

  • October 8, 2014

    University of Rochester spin-off company Adarza BioSystems raises $6.8 million

    University of Rochester spin-off company Adarza BioSystems has some big news this quarter – $6.8 million dollars big. Benjamin Miller, Professor of Dermatology, Biochemistry and Biophysics, and Biomedical Engineering, helped found Adarza in 2008. BME graduate students Joe Bucukovski, Mark Lifson, and Rashmi Sriram have also been working with Adarza on research and development.

  • October 2, 2014

    Making PhDs More Employable: New Education Initiative Paves the Way

    Preparing graduate students and post-doctoral trainees for jobs outside of academia is the goal of a new career-training program at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry (SMD), supported by $1.8 million from the National Institutes of Health.

    The award to Principal Investigator Stephen Dewhurst Ph.D.,Vice Dean for Research at the SMD, comes at a time when fewer opportunities for tenure-track faculty positions exist, and yet graduate students in biomedical sciences don't always have the awareness, robust training, connections, or transferable skills needed to identify and succeed in a range of other careers.

  • August 8, 2014

    Jim Baker & Ben Miller Work to Develop Small Optical Biosensors to Detect Individual Viruses or Virus Particles.

    Jim Baker

    taken from the University of Rochester's Research Connection, August 8th Issue

    Jim Baker, a Ph.D. student in Physics, is working with Benjamin Miller Ph.D., Professor of Dermatology and of Biochemistry & Biophysics, to develop optical biosensors small enough and sensitive enough to detect individual viruses or virus particles that are only one ten-millionth of a meter in size.

    If somebody is treated for a virus, we currently have no way to tell if somebody is completely cured of that virus, Baker explained. You need a diagnostic sensitive enough to detect a single virus particle, which doesn't exist.

    Baker's project is to develop just such a diagnostic. He is working on two-dimensional photonic crystal (2DPhC) sensors -- micron-scale devices that are fabricated in silicon and are so small you could fit 74,000 of them on a dime, Miller noted.

    When we pass light through one of these sensors, it traps light of a particular color, Baker said. When a virus binds to our sensor, it changes the color of light that can be trapped, and that allows us to detect if a virus is present.

    Not surprisingly, these sensors are extraordinarily difficult to design, Baker noted, requiring computer simulations showing what color of light is trapped by various geometric patterns, and how the binding of a virus changes that. This generates a large volume of results -- all related, yet all different and needing to be analyzed together, Baker said. It was a significant challenge at first to analyze all of these different data sets separately, while trying to keep them all in mind so I could draw global conclusions.

  • March 14, 2012

    Taking another Shot at RAGE to Tame Alzheimer's

    photo of Ben and Itender

    Benjamin Miller, Ph.D., and Itender Singh, Ph.D.

    Researchers have taken another crack at a promising approach to stopping Alzheimer's disease that encountered a major hurdle last year. In research published this week in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, scientists have developed a compound that targets a molecular actor known as RAGE, which plays a central role in mucking up the brain tissue of people with the disease.

    Scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center and the University of Southern California synthesized a compound that stops RAGE in mice - reversing amyloid deposits, restoring healthy blood flow in the brain, squelching inflammation, and making old, sick mice smarter. But the scientists caution that the work has a long way to go before it's considered as a possible treatment in people.

    In the latest work, Zlokovic and colleagues screened thousands of compounds for anti-RAGE activity and identified three that seemed promising. Then the team turned to chemists Benjamin Miller, Ph.D., and graduate student Nathan Ross. The pair analyzed the compounds' molecular structures, then used that knowledge to create dozens of candidates likely to have activity against RAGE.

  • August 26, 2011

    Integrated Nanosystems Center Opens Today

    U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter will join UR President Joel Seligman, Hajim School Dean Rob Clark, and Department of Physics and Astronomy Chair Nicholas Bigelow today for the opening of the Integrated Nanosystems Center. A news conference is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. in Munnerlyn Atrium, Goergen Hall. The facility brings together the disciplines of physics, optics, chemistry, biomedicine, and bioengineering to enable research in the fields of nanoscience and nanotechnology.

  • July 7, 2011

    Hsin-I Peng Successfully Defends Ph.D. Thesis

    Congratulations to Hsin-I Peng, who successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis in Biomedical Engineering today. Hsin will be moving to a postdoctoral fellowship with Prof. Gang Bao at Georgia Tech.

  • June 24, 2011

    Leslie Ofori Wins Best Poster at 2011 Gordon Research Conference

    Congratulations to Leslie Ofori for winning a best poster award at the 2011 Gordon Research Conference in High Throughput Chemistry and Chemical Biology. As part of his award, Leslie will present an invited talk at the 2013 conference.

  • November 22, 2010

    Ben Miller Speaks at TEDxRochester

    Ben Miller talks about how we apply Play to our exploration of human health.

  • November 1, 2010

    'Smart Bandage' Diagnoses Danger Before Infection Takes Hold

    Benjamin Miller, professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University, and Philippe Fauchet, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, have devised a sand-grain sized wafer that can differentiate between two classes of bacteria, called Gram-positive and Gram-negative.

    The sensor, the first substantial improvement in identifying Gram-positive and negative bacteria since Hans Christian Joachim Gram developed the original staining technique in 1884, is reported in the upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The accomplishment is evidence that it's indeed possible to accurately identify bacteria with a silicon sensor, spurring Miller's team to expand the research to several other types of bacteria, including salmonella, listeria and enteropathogenic E. coli, all of which can cause serious disease in humans.

  • September 27, 2010

    2010 Future of Health Technology Award Presented to Professor Benjamin Miller

    Professor Benjamin L. Miller (Dermatology, Biomedical Engineering, and Biochemistry & Biophysics) has been named the recipient of the 2010 Future of Health Technology Award for his pioneering work in the development of super-sensitive diagnostic devices.

    The award was presented during the annual Future of Health Technology Summit, in Cambridge from Sept. 27-28. The summit will focus on the development of new health technologies across the globe.

    Miller's work is exemplified by the development of new biosensors and diagnostic devices, including the DNA NanoLantern and sensors sensitive enough to detect single viruses. The award is given to those whose work can help reduce suffering, maximize the potential for self-realization and extend human potential with technology. Professor Miller's efforts truly improve the human condition and will revolutionize the way we live, said Renata Bushko, director of FHTI.

  • January 31, 2010

    Adarza is Changing the Future of Diagnostic Testing

    Ben Miller, of Adarza BioSystems (Courtesy of Carlos Ortiz, Democrat and Chronicle staff photographer)

    Adarza BioSystems Inc., a University of Rochester innovation being turned into an everyday, commercially applicable medical device, is at a point somewhere between the defrosting and the baking.

    Like Kodak's camera and Xerox's copier, Adarza, based at the High Tech Rochester new business incubator, is really one core product upon which success will rise or fall. Essentially, it's a biomedical screen or sensor that at microscopic levels uses reflecting laser light to pick out particular biomarkers, or molecules.

    More broadly, Adarza, a Sanskrit word meaning reflected image, feeds Rochester's economic future with the prototypical recipe of imaging innovation, optical precision and engineering brilliance that is calibrated to a mobile, do-it-now medical culture. Benjamin Miller, a faculty member and biomedical research scientist at UR, did the heavy intellectual lifting on Adarza technology in partnership with UR chemist Lewis Rothberg.

  • February 20, 2009

    Benjamin Miller wins Health Care Achievement Award in Innovation from the Rochester Business Journal

    Fourteen individuals and an imaging system technology have been selected as recipients of Rochester Business Journal 2009 Health Care Achievement Awards. BME professor, Dr. Benjamin Miller was honored as one of the recipients of this year's award. Dr. Miller has founded two local companies based on diagnostic biosensing technologies developed in his laboratory.

  • October 31, 2006

    Do I Know You, Sugar?


    The molecule TW545 can recognize a carbohydrate-containing bacterial toxin.

    A molecule that can recognize carbohydrates could further the fight against infections. The carbohydrate-containing compound lipid A is found in certain bacteria and can cause septic shock, a serious condition that may lead to organ failure and death. Ben Miller at the University of Rochester, New York, US, said molecules that selectively bind lipid A could be used to diagnose infection or to treat septic shock.

    Molecular recognition of carbohydrates is a challenging problem, said Miller. Carbohydrates look a lot like bulk solvent, and are more complex than other biopolymers because they have a lot of branching points. Despite these problems Miller and his University of Rochester co-workers succeeded in designing a molecule, called TW545, that recognizes lipid A.

    Miller describes TW545 as a 'stepping stone' towards new strategies for molecular recognition of carbohydrates. He is particularly interested in using carbohydrate-binding molecules for diagnostic purposes. Many proteins relevant to human health contain carbohydrate groups, said Miller, so molecules that recognize these could be put to good medical use.

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