Duane D. Miller, PhD

Duane D. Miller, Ph.D.

Van Vleet Professor

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences

The University of Tennessee Health Science Center
227c Johnson Building
847 Monroe Avenue
Memphis, TN 38163
Tel: (901) 448-6026
Fax: (901) 448-6828
Email: Duane D. Miller



  • PhD Institution: University of Washington, Medicinal Chemistry Department

Research Interests

The design, synthesis and characterization of new drug molecules for mechanism based structure-activity relationships is the primary focus of our laboratory. One of the important areas of research is studying new drugs affecting the central and peripheral nervous systems. Our laboratory is very interested in the design of drugs that are used to treat asthma, emphysema and obesity. Other areas of keen interest are drugs used to treat and diagnose prostate cancer and diabetic complications.

We are currently investigating the modification of a molecule called trimetoquinol which is used in Japan. We are attempting to make chemical structural changes in the molecule so that it can be used to activate selectively beta 2-adrenergic receptors found in lung tissue. We are also attempting to make changes that will also convert this same molecule into a beta 3-adrenergic receptor agonist for the treatment of obesity. The latter receptors are found in adipose tissue and upon activation lead to the breakdown of fat. We are also in the process of studying medetomidine, an alpha-adrenergic agonist. We are changing the structure of medetomidine chemically to see if such changes can lead to a better understanding of how this molecule binds to the various subtypes of a- adrenergic receptors.

We are very interested in drugs that could interfere with the craving for cocaine. We are now synthesizing drugs that will block specific glutamate receptors found in the brain and hopefully such new information will help us find an agent that will be useful in treating cocaine addiction.

Drugs that bind to androgen receptors and their relationship to prostate cancer are being studied in our laboratory. A major project is directed toward synthesizing new radiolabeled androgen ligands and we plan to use this technology towards imaging metastatic prostate cancer.

A major enzyme in the development of diabetic complications such as cataracts is thought to be the enzyme aldose reductase. Our laboratory has developed irreversible inhibitors for studying this enzyme.

Representative Publications

  • Wang Q, Arnst KE, Wang Y, Kumar G, Ma D, Chen H, Wu Z, Yang J, White SW, Miller DD, Li W. Structural Modification of the 3,4,5-Trimethoxyphenyl Moiety in the Tubulin Inhibitor VERU-111 Leads to Improved Antiproliferative Activities. J Med Chem. 2018 Sep 13;61(17):7877-7891. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.8b00827. Epub 2018 Aug 30. PubMed PMID: 30122035.
  • Pi M, Kapoor K, Ye R, Hwang DJ, Miller DD, Smith JC, Baudry J, Quarles LD. Computationally identified novel agonists for GPRC6A. PLoS One. 2018 Apr 23;13(4):e0195980. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0195980. eCollection 2018. PubMed PMID: 29684031; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5912754.
  • Wang Q, Arnst KE, Xue Y, Lei ZN, Ma D, Chen ZS, Miller DD, Li W. Synthesis and biological evaluation of indole-based UC-112 analogs as potent and selective survivin inhibitors. Eur J Med Chem. 2018 Apr 10;149:211-224. doi: 10.1016/j.ejmech.2018.02.045. Epub 2018 Feb 19. PubMed PMID: 29501942; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5849576.
  • Banerjee S, Arnst KE, Wang Y, Kumar G, Deng S, Yang L, Li GB, Yang J, White SW, Li W, Miller DD. Heterocyclic-Fused Pyrimidines as Novel Tubulin Polymerization Inhibitors Targeting the Colchicine Binding Site: Structural Basis and Antitumor Efficacy. J Med Chem. 2018 Feb 22;61(4):1704-1718. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.7b01858. Epub 2018 Feb 12. PubMed PMID: 29406710; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5912893.
  • Lin Z, Marepally SR, Goh ESY, Cheng CYS, Janjetovic Z, Kim TK, Miller DD, Postlethwaite AE, Slominski AT, Tuckey RC, Peluso-Iltis C, Rochel N, Li W. Investigation of 20S-hydroxyvitamin D(3) analogs and their 1α-OH derivatives as potent vitamin D receptor agonists with anti-inflammatory activities. Sci Rep. 2018 Jan 24;8(1):1478. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-19183-7. PubMed PMID: 29367669; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5784132.
  • Narayanan R, Ponnusamy S, Miller DD. Destroying the androgen receptor (AR)-potential strategy to treat advanced prostate cancer. Oncoscience. 2017 Dec 28;4(11-12):175-177. doi: 10.18632/oncoscience.389. eCollection 2017 Nov. PubMed PMID: 29344555; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5769981.

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