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BCRF Grantee Since


Donor Recognition

The ANN INC. Award

Area(s) of Focus

Kathy D. Miller, MD

Ballve Lantero Scholar in Oncology
Professor, Department of Medicine
Co-Director, Simon Cancer Center Breast Cancer Program
Indiana University School of Medicine
Indianapolis, Indiana

Current Research

Breast cancer cells need fatty acids to grow. Even though a Western diet contains enough fatty acids for healthy cell growth and function, aggressive breast cancer cells need more than they can get from a person’s diet. They solve this problem by using an enzyme called fatty acid synthase (FASN) to make more fatty acids. Breast cancers with high levels of FASN are much more likely to recur and metastasize with significantly shorter disease free and overall survival. In preliminary laboratory studies inhibition of FASN selectively killed cancer cells with minimal effect on normal cells. Dr. Miller and her team have identified a promising new strategey to block FASN with a class of drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPI). A preliminary retrospective study found that PPI use in breast cancer patients during their chemotherapy significantly improved overall survival. The impact was most striking in patients with triple negative breast cancer. In the coming year, Dr. Miller will test whether the common PPI omeprazole can inhibit FASN in newly diagnosed triple negative breast cancers and increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy. Because PPIs are FDA-approved, affordable and well tolerated during chronic use, they can be tested in clinical trials quickly.


Kathy D. Miller received her MD in 1991 from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD. Dr. Miller completed internal medicine training at Hopkins, then returned to her native Midwest for fellowship training at Indiana University, serving as Chief Fellow in 1997. She returned to Indiana University in 1999, attaining the rank of Professor and Ballvé-Lantero Scholar in 2014. 

Dr. Miller’s career has combined both laboratory and clinical research in breast cancer. She became chair of the ECOG-ACRIN Breast Core Committee in January 2014. In this role she works with academic scientists and community oncologists to develop trials that combine clinical and biologic endpoints yet remain feasible in non-academic settings. Dr. Miller honed her ability to coordinate multi-center trials as principal investigator for three previous ECOG trials. In addition she serves as principal investigator of the National Clinical Trials Network at Indiana University.

Latest from Kathy D. Miller