Duane D. Miller, Ph.D.

Duane D. Miller, Ph.D.

Van Vleet Professor and Chair

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


  • Ph.D. 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

  • Toutounchian JJ, Steinle JJ, Makena PS, Waters CM, Wilson MW, Haik BG, Miller DD, Yates CR. Modulation of Radiation Injury Response in Retinal Endothelial Cells by Quinic Acid Derivative KZ-41 Involves p38 MAPK. PLoS One. 2014 Jun 23;9(6):e100210. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0100210. eCollection 2014. PubMed PMID: 24956278; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4067294.
  • Chen J, Wang J, Kim TK, Tieu EW, Tang EK, Lin Z, Kovacic D, Miller DD, Postlethwaite A, Tuckey RC, Slominski AT, Li W. Novel vitamin D analogs as potential therapeutics: metabolism, toxicity profiling, and antiproliferative activity. Anticancer Res. 2014 May;34(5):2153-63. PubMed PMID: 24778017; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4015637.
  • Thompson KE, Zeng K, Wilson CM, Gaber MW, Miller DD, Yates CR. Quinic acid derivative KZ-41 exhibits radiomitigating activity in preclinical models of radiation injury. Drug Dev Res. 2014 Feb;75(1):29-36. doi: 10.1002/ddr.21164. Epub 2013 Dec 26. PubMed PMID: 24648047.
  • He H, Williams-Guy K, Pagadala J, Presley CS, Miller DD, Steinle JJ, Yates CR. A sensitive and fast LC-MS/MS method for determination of β-receptor agonist JP-49b: application to a pharmacokinetic study in rats. J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2014 Mar 15;953-954:86-91. doi: 10.1016/j.jchromb.2014.01.031. Epub 2014 Feb 8. PubMed PMID: 24576769; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3985067.
  • Chen J, Slominski AT, Miller DD, Li W. Effects of sidechain length and composition on the kinetic conversion and product distribution of vitamin D analogs determined by real-time NMR. Dermatoendocrinol. 2013 Jan 1;5(1):142-9. doi: 10.4161/derm.24339. PubMed PMID: 24494047; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3897582.
  • Slominski A, Kim TK, Zmijewski MA, Janjetovic Z, Li W, Chen J, Kusniatsova EI, Semak I, Postlethwaite A, Miller DD, Zjawiony JK, Tuckey RC. Novel vitamin D photoproducts and their precursors in the skin. Dermatoendocrinol. 2013 Jan 1;5(1):7-19. doi: 10.4161/derm.23938. Review. PubMed PMID: 24494038; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3897599.

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