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Ben Miller named AAAS fellow

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Two University of Rochester faculty members have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Todd Krauss, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry, and Benjamin Miller, Dean's Professor of Dermatology, are among 443 members of the association being recognized this year for their "efforts toward advancing scientific applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished."

Benjamin Miller is focused on two areas of research: how various molecules recognize RNA sequences; and how the optical properties of nanomaterials might aid in the development of new biosensors for biological investigations and clinical screenings.

In the realm of RNA recognition, Miller and the members of his lab have applied techniques of molecular design and a novel method of small-molecule evolution called Dynamic Combinatorial Chemistry, which allows researchers to rapidly "prototype" RNA binding molecules. The Miller lab uses these methods to develop new RNA-targeted drugs to treat diseases such as Myotonic Dystrophy and HIV. In investigating the optical properties of nanomaterials, Miller hopes to pave the way toward compact, inexpensive biosensors that could replace current floor-standing clinical diagnostic systems with a cell phone-sized device.

"I'm honored to join the ranks of AAAS fellows and view it as recognition of the quality of work my research group members have done over the years," he says.

Miller joined the Rochester faculty in 1996 and has joint appointments in biomedical engineering, biochemistry and biophysics, and optics, as well as in the chemistry and materials science graduate programs. He received the Future of Health Technology Award in 2010 and the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar award in 2001.

Viktoriya Anokhina Receives GWIS Travel and Conference Award

Tuesday, November 12, 2019


Viktoriya Anokhina is a 6th year doctoral candidate in Ben Miller's Lab. Viktoriya received a travel and conference award from GWIS to attend the Gordon Research Seminar and Conference in Nucleosides, Nucleotides and Oligonucleotides, Newport, RI, USA June 22-- 28, 2019. View Viktoriya's Travel report followup.

Needle-Free Flu Vaccine Patch Effective in Early Study

Monday, September 16, 2019

A new needle-free flu vaccine patch revved up the immune system much like a traditional flu shot without any negative side effects, according to a study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Though the research is in the early stages (the patch hasn't been tested in humans), it's an important step toward a technology that could replace needle-based vaccination methods that require administration by health care workers and biohazard waste removal.

"Scientists have been studying needle-free vaccine approaches for nearly two decades, but none of the technologies have lived up to the hype," said Benjamin L. Miller, Ph.D., corresponding author and Dean's Professor of Dermatology at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "Our patch overcomes a lot of the challenges faced by microneedle patches for vaccine delivery, the main method that's been tested over the years, and our efficacy and lack of toxicity make me excited about the prospect of a product that could have huge implications for global health."

Common skin disease paves the way for needleless flu shot

Transporting big molecules like flu vaccine proteins across the skin is difficult to do, as the skin is intended to keep things out of the body, not to let them in. The study team took lessons learned from the research and treatment of a common inflammatory skin disease to overcome this hurdle and inform their flu vaccine patch strategy.

In patients with eczema, or atopic dermatitis, the skin barrier is leaky, allowing pollens, molds and a host of other allergens to enter through the skin and be sensed by the immune system. Lisa A. Beck, M.D., corresponding author and Dean's Professor of Dermatology at the University of Rochester Medical Center discovered that the expression of a protein called claudin-1 helps maintain barrier strength and lessen the permeability of the skin. Claudin-1 is significantly reduced in eczema patients (hence the leaky skin barrier) compared to individuals without the disease.

Read More: Needle-Free Flu Vaccine Patch Effective in Early Study