ROBERT D. MILLER'S RESEARCH ON THE OPOSSUM GENOME PROJECT
Biology Professor Robert D. Miller's research interests are in the areas of comparative immunology, the evolution of vertebrate antigen receptor genes, and the evolution of maternal–fetal interactions and immunity. Recently, the Albuquerque Journal highlighted Dr. Miller's and UNM colleagues Michelle Baker and Zuly Parra research contributions to the Opossum Genome Project ("Opossums, Exposed"), published in the scientific journal Nature (Mikkelsen, T.S. et al. 2007. Genome of the marsupial Monodelphis domestica reveals innovation in non-coding sequences. Nature 447:167-177.) Funded by a federal grant, Dr. Miller's Center for Evolutionary and Theoretical Immunology (CETI) research group began studying the genome (an organism's genetic blueprint) of the Short-tailed Opossum. The goal of the research is to understand the mammalian immune system by comparing it with the opossum's genome. The opossum is Dr. Miller's choice of model organism because it is a marsupial, which means its immune system develops after birth rather than before birth, as with placental mammals.