UCSF Children's Hospital Professor Walter L. Miller, MD, has been named the recipient of the 2006 Clinical Investigator Award Lecture from the Endocrine Society.
The world's largest organization of endocrinologists recognized Miller for his internationally renowned studies of the genetics and cell biology of steroid hormone synthesis.
In announcing the honor, the society described Miller as "an outstanding mentor and educator" who has "been a consistent and innovative international leader, defining the field of molecular steroidogenesis by integrating basic research with clinical observation. Like the best clinical investigation, his work has changed the way endocrinologists think about this field."
A professor of pediatrics and chief of the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Miller also is the director of UCSF's National Institutes of Health-supported Pediatric Endocrinology Training Program.
The Clinical Investigator Award Lecture carries with it a monetary award and the opportunity to present a lecture before the assembled members of the society.
"It's very rewarding that one's peers recognize the intimate link between clinical investigation and molecular biology," Miller said. "The understanding of disease processes inevitably requires a detailed understanding of biochemical and biophysical processes in a cell and, using these approaches, our laboratory has had the opportunity to figure out how several diseases affect children. This has permitted improved recognition of disease and hence improved diagnosis and treatment."
There are three categories of steroids, Miller explained: mineralocorticoids, glucocorticoids (or cortisol) and sex steroids. Mineralocorticoids control the body's use of sodium. Glucocorticoids control the body's response to stress and sex steroids are required for reproduction.
Miller's primary research interest is in studying genes for enzymes involved in steroidogenesis to delineate the molecular basis of certain endocrine disorders.
His research team was the first to describe how adrenal glucocorticoid and androgen synthesis was independently regulated within the adrenal gland, which has affected current views on the pathogenesis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
"Our laboratory has studied the genes for the enzymes that are involved in the biosynthesis of steroid hormones, genetic disorders that derive from mutations in those genes, and the biochemical and biophysical consequences of the altered proteins that mutant genes produce," Miller said.
Miller has served on many editorial boards, including the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism and Endocrinology, both publications of the Endocrine Society. Additionally, Miller has received several awards for his accomplishments in endocrinology, including the Edwin B. Astwood Award Lecture from the Endocrine Society, the Clinical Endocrinology Trust Medal from the British Endocrine Societies, the Henning Andersen Prize of the European Society for Pediatric Endocrinology and The Samuel Rosenthal Foundation Prize for Excellence in Academic Pediatrics. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The Clinical Investigator Award Lecture is presented annually to an internationally recognized clinical investigator who has contributed significantly to understanding the pathogenesis, pathophysiology and therapy of endocrine diseases.
Founded in 1916, the Endocrine Society is internationally known as the leading source of state-of-the-art research and clinical advancements in endocrinology and metabolism. The Endocrine Society is dedicated to promoting excellence in research, education and clinical practice in the field of endocrinology.