Hello, and welcome to the official Miller Lab website! Our lab is in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Washington School of Medicine. We are interested broadly in understanding how animals stay alive in environments that are constantly changing. Animals rely on the environment: it is the source of essential nutrients (food, oxygen, water) and it dictates the general conditions in which we live (temperature, light/dark cycle). The environment can also be dangerous, as it contains predators and toxins. Our goal is to understand how environmental factors change animal physiology, so that we can devise new strategies to improve survival in conditions associated with disease morbidity and mortality.

The Miller Lab is passionate about doing great research, and communicating about research with the public. We hope that you will spend some time on our site to  learn more about our group and our research. You can also find us on Twitter and Tumblr. We are also working to set up a lab blog that we are calling A Breath of Fresh Air.

Research in the Miller Lab aims to understand how cells and organisms respond when oxygen (O2) is limited. This condition, known as hypoxia, can occur when blood flow to tissues is disrupted due to blood loss from traumatic injury, stroke, or heart attack. We want to figure out how to keep cells (and whole animals) alive when they experience hypoxia. We are also interested in learning how to use the response to hypoxia to treat diseases like cancer and diabetes, where cells act like they are hypoxic even when there is plenty of O2 around.

Another focus of the lab is on the physiological effects of hydrogen sulfide (H2S). H2S is common in the environment: it is a component of volcanic gasses, it is produced by anaerobic bacteria that live in very low O2 environments, and it is produced in a variety of industrial applications. H2S can be very toxic – it is the 2nd most common cause of workplace fatality by inhalation, behind only carbon monoxide. On the other hand, all the cells in our bodies make H2S and it has many functions that are important to keep animals healthy.  Interestingly, there are lots of studies that show treatment with extra  H2S can improve survival in mammals when blood flow is disrupted (which leads tissues to become hypoxic). We are working to figure out  how H2S has these effects, and what is different about beneficial and toxic responses to H2S.

C. elegans larvae expressing
green fluorescent protein (GFP) in M-lineage cells.

Micrograph taken by Dana Miller

The mighty worm, C. elegans
They may be small, but the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is no lightweight! Two Nobel Prizes have been awarded for research to understand how these tiny metazoans work. The worm is a favorite model system in the Miller Lab, because of its powerful molecular, cellular and genetic tools. You can learn more about these awesome little critters at Wormbase, or read this excellent blog post by our very own graduate student Emily. If you have questions, feel free to comment over our blog.

We are always interested in recruiting clever and enthusiastic young scientists to our group. No matter what stage in your career, undergraduate through postdoctoral, find important information about applying to join our team here.


If you are interested in postdoctoral research in the Miller Lab, email Dana with your current CV (including a list of References) and a short (< 1pg) statement of your research interests. We want to know why you find our research compelling and what you will add to the group.