Stephen Miller, PhD, receives McKnight Technological Innovations in Neuroscience Award

Stephen C. Miller, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology, received a 2016 McKnight Technological Innovations in Neuroscience Award for his work overcoming barriers to imaging in the brain.

Imaging in the brain is challenging, as many molecular probes are unable to cross the protective blood-brain barrier. Dr. Miller will use the McKnight award to spy on the inner workings of the brain using the bioluminescence of the firefly. Bioluminescence occurs when the luciferase enzyme acts upon its small molecule substrate, luciferin. Miller and his team have modified the natural firefly luciferin to improve its ability to access the brain, and to increase the sensitivity and selectivity of this technique for visualizing specific molecular events occurring in the brains of live animals. The glow of the brain can be used to detect gene expression and enzyme activity, monitor disease progression, or gauge the effectiveness of new drugs.

UMass Medical School Communications

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