Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience, Minor in Biology - Drake University, Des Moines, IA (2019)
Hello! My name is Alexandra (Alex), and I was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. I earned my Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience with a minor in Biology from Drake University in 2019. During my undergraduate studies, I cultivated my passion for research by participating in two intramural research experiences and two extramural summer research internships. At Drake, I studied the visual pathway of pigeons under Dr. Olga Lazareva and tourniquet and trauma care under Dr. Charisse Buising. I also worked with the clinical neuroscience research team at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, MN on their neurovascular and neuro-oncology teams under Dr. Nilanjana Banerji, as well as participating in Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Summer Research Experience in Cancer Sciences under Dr. Andrei Bakin in Buffalo, NY. My coursework at Drake and extramural research experiences allowed me to gain knowledge about genetic contributors to health and led me to pursue additional knowledge and research experience in genetics/genomics.
Following my undergraduate studies, I worked at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN for four years. I was a clinical research coordinator in the Atherosclerosis and Lipid Genomics Lab under Dr. Iftikhar Kullo, an incredible physician-scientist who inspired and encouraged me to pursue MD/PhD training. In the Kullo lab, I was exposed to many facets of genomic research including variant annotation, digital tool development, statistical genetics, epidemiological studies, phenotypic algorithm development, and implementation science clinical trials. I led a cascade testing clinical trial for familial hypercholesterolemia and was the Mayo Clinic project manager for the Electronic Medical Record and Genomics (eMERGE) Network’s Phase IV project, whose goal is to investigate the clinical utility of polygenic risk scores for common conditions. Following my time in the Kullo Lab, I received a promotion and worked as the Senior Program Coordinator of the Mayo Clinic’s Department of Clinical Genomics research program. In this role, I managed 25 clinical trials focusing on rare genetic diseases under Drs. Eva Morava-Kozicz, Dusica Babovic-Vuksanovic, Ralitza Gavrilova, and Lisa Schimmenti. I was also the administrative coordinator for the Frontiers in Congenital Disorders of Glycosylation Consortium, a consortium of the NIH’s Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network, and trained our clinical research team. My time at Mayo Clinic provided many mentorship opportunities, and continuing to be a mentor is something I greatly wish to continue during my MD/PhD training.
I am very excited to be a part of the University of Arizona’s MSTP and have thoroughly enjoyed exploring Tucson and AZ! During my MD/PhD training, I hope to continue expanding my knowledge and research experiences in the field of genomics. I am particularly interested in how genetic, genomic, and environmental factors, along with social determinants of health can all influence the development and progression of disease. I can’t wait to be a part of this evolving field and continue to see its impact on clinical care!
Outside of lab and school, I love being outdoors, hiking, reading, baking, cooking, and spending time with my friends and family.
Graduated Summa Cum Laude and with Departmental Honors - Drake University
Drake University President’s List (Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019)
Psyche M. Gooden Scholarship for excellence in scholarship in psychology/neuroscience
Nu Rho Psi (Neuroscience Honors Society) member
2nd Place Award for “Best 3-Minute Thesis” at Mayo Clinic’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences 3-Minute Thesis Competition (2019)
“Best Elevator Talk” Award for Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Summer Research Experience in Cancer Sciences Conference
Connolly JJ, Berner ES, Smith M,…Miller A, et al. “Education and electronic medical records and genomics network, challenges, and lessons learned from a large-scale clinical trial using polygenic risk scores”. Genet Med. 2023. PMID: 37246632.
Linder JE, Allworth A, Bland HT,…Miller A, et al. “Returning integrated genomic risk and clinical recommendations: The eMERGE study”. Genet Med. 2023. PMID: 36621880.
Miller A, Bangash H, Smith C, Wood-Wentz C, Bailey K, Kullo I. “A Pragmatic Clinical Trial of Cascade Testing for Familial Hypercholesterolemia”. Genet Med. 2022. PMID: 36173399.
Bangash H, Makkawy A, Gundelach J, Miller A, Jacobson K, Kullo I. “Web-Based Tool (FH Family Share) to Increase Uptake of Cascade Testing for Familial Hypercholesterolemia: Development and Evaluation”. JMIR Hum Factors. 2022. PMID: 35166678.
Saadatagah S, Shahnazar R, Sherafati A, Alhalabi L, Miller A, Hamed M, Kullo I. “MaxSpliZer: a Tool to Predict Effects of LDLR Splice Variant Based on the Maximum Entropy Model”. 2022. Preprint.
Saadatagah S, Jose M, Dikilitas O, Alhalabi L, Miller A, Fan X, Olson J, Kochan D, Safarova M, Kullo I. “Genetic basis of hypercholesterolemia in adults”. NPJ Genom Med. 2021. PMID: 33854068.
Zonneville J, Colligan S, Grant S, Miller A, Wallace P, Abrams S, Bakin A. “Blockade of p38 kinase impedes the mobilization of protumorigenic myeloid populations to impact breast cancer metastasis”. International Journal of Cancer. 2020. PMID: 32452014.
Farwati M, Bangash H, Saadatagah S, Hargraves I, Gundelach J, Shaw K, Branda M, Miller A, Hartasanchez S, Montori V, Kullo I. “A Conversation Aid for Familial Hypercholesterolemia”. Under Review.
Miller A, Nigbur S, Petrzelka J, Bangash H, Hussain S, Caraballo P, Freimuth R, Kullo I. “Electronic Health Record-Based Recruitment for Genomic Research Studies”. American Society of Human Genetics Annual Meeting. 25-29 October 2022. Poster.
Miller A, Kullo I. “EHR-based Recruitment for eMERGE IV”. Electronic Medical Records and Genomics Network Steering Committee Meeting. June 2022. Panel Presentation.
Miller A, Kullo I. “A Clinical Trial of Cascade Testing for Familial Hypercholesterolemia”. Mayo Clinic Cardiovascular Research Seminar. March 2022. Oral Presentation.
Miller A, Nigbur S, Kullo I. “Increasing Detection of Familial Hypercholesterolemia in an Academic Medical Center: Familial Hypercholesterolemia Identification Registry (FHIRE)”. American Society of Human Genetics Annual Meeting. 18-22 October 2021. Platform Presentation.
Miller A, Kochan D, Kullo I. “Cascade Testing for Hypercholesterolemia”. Mayo Clinical Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences 3-Minute Thesis Competition, Rochester, MN. 31 July 2019. Oral Presentation.
Miller A, Zonneville J, Grant S, Walden R, Colligan S, Abrams S, Bakin A. “The Role of p38MAPK in the Tumor Microenvironment”. Buffalo Research Day. University of Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine, Buffalo, NY. 27 July 2018. Poster.
Miller A, Zonneville J, Grant S, Walden R, Colligan S, Abrams S, Bakin A. “The Role of p38MAPK in the Tumor Microenvironment”. 2018 Summer Research Experience in Cancer
Sciences Conference, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Buffalo, NY. 8-10 August 2018. Oral Presentation.