​Benjamin Miller, Ph.D.

Education

​PhD 2002, Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA

​MS 1998, Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

​BS 1995, Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

​Research Overview

It is projected that by 2035, the number of people in the US over the age of 65 years old will be greater than the number of people below 18 years old. This projection illustrates the massive shift in the United States to an aged population. With the aging population comes challenges because of the increase costs and burdens of the diseases that accumulate with age. In our lab, we study the aging process in order to understand how to make people age slower. Our goal is not to make it possible to live 150 years, but rather to extend the period spent free of disease. In other words, rather than increase the lifespan, we aim to increase the healthspan. Of particular interest to our lab is how to maintain muscle, which is important for maintaining independence and a healthy metabolism.

In our laboratory we use models that live longer than they should, to understand what gives rise to increased healthspan. We focus on how to maintain proteins in a “young” state so that cells and tissues can continue to function normally and absent of disease. Of particular interest are mitochondria since these cellular organelles seem to be central to the aging process. Our research seeks to determine if we can maintain the quality of proteins in mitochondria to maintain overall health. In a tissue like muscle, it is our hope that maintaining mitochondria will help preserve muscle function with age. Importantly, it is always our goal to take what we learn in our laboratory experiments and translate them into human treatments that improve human healthspan.

​Miller Lab

​Benjamin Miller, Ph.D.

​Principal Investigator

Elizabeth Donald

Senior Lab Manager

​Marcus Lawrence, Ph.D.

P​ostdoctoral Fellow

​Agnieszka Borowik, Ph.D.

P​ostdoctoral Fellow

​Arik Davidyan, Ph.D.

​Postdoctoral Fellow

​Kamil Kobak, 

​Graduate Student & Fullbright Scholar

Rick Peelor

GC-MS Technician

​Contact

Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation

​Aging & Metabolism Research Program

​825 N.E. 13th Street, RM S121B

Oklahoma City OK 73104

(405) 271-7767

Publications

​Website

Link

The overall goal of the Translational Biogerontology Laboratory is to slow the aging process. By slowing the aging process, our goal is to extend the period of our lives spent free of disease – now referred to as extending the healthspan. We approach this problem by studying the interaction of mitochondrial energetics, protein turnover, and stress resistance. This triad is complicated because of the interdependence of the factors. For example, stress resistance requires efficient energy production as does protein turnover, but protein turnover is required to improve stress resistance and mitochondrial energetics. We study the basic biology of these processes and attempt to intervene to slow aging.

We use a variety of approaches to solve these problems. The lab is a world leader in the use of stable isotopes to study metabolic flux and synthetic processes. We use stable isotopes and other approaches to answer basic and applied questions. By using a translational approach, we take basic studies in model organisms and apply them to human clinical trials. We have used a variety of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical (exercise and nutritional) strategies from bench to bedside and back. Our primary tissue of interest is skeletal muscle with an increasing interest in the brain. By targeting skeletal muscle, we hope to minimize the age-related decline in muscle mass and function that is devastating to maintenance of physical independence and metabolic function. Our increasing interest in the brain was initially driven by the NIH brain initiative, but we are increasingly drawn to the potential for neurodegeneration to be a systemic bioenergetic disorder.