UMN cancer researcher named National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Jeffrey Miller, M.D., deputy director of the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, has been awarded over $6 million by the National Cancer Institute’s Outstanding Investigator program. The selection process is highly competitive and Miller is one of fewer than 50 this fiscal year to receive the award - and the only in Minnesota. 

The award is designed to give outstanding researchers the freedom to take more risks, to be more adventurous in their line of inquiry, and to provide a sufficient amount of time to develop new techniques by providing seven years of financial support.

The project cited in the award announcement is focused on targeting natural killer (NK) cells to combat solid tumor malignancies via immunotherapy. Miller is internationally known for pioneering the basic research and clinical investigation of NK cell-based therapeutics, which has the ability to target cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed. This has the potential of transforming the treatment of cancer by eliminating the side effects associated with high doses of chemotherapy and radiation.

Miller holds the Roger L. and Lynn C. Headrick Chair in Cancer Therapeutics at the University of Minnesota. He is a practicing hematologist/oncologist at University of Minnesota Medical Center and the Masonic Cancer Clinic.

Recently, the clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, Fate Therapeutics, announced a partnership with Miller and Dan Kaufman, M.D., Ph.D., to develop “off the shelf”  NK-cell based immunotherapies.

“This notable award and the collaboration with Fate Therapeutics, are validation of the exceptional work done by Jeff Miller and his team, to identify the potential of NK cells and the therapeutic opportunities,” said Douglas Yee, M.D., director of the Masonic Cancer Center. “The Masonic Cancer Center and its members remain dedicated to exceptional translational research, using robust research to bring big ideas from bench to bedside. We believe immunotherapy is the future of cancer research, and are excited to have such a strong team dedicated to this project.”

The Oustanding Investigator Award is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant number R35CA 197292.