Jeffrey R. Millman, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Internal Medicine
Biomedical Engineering

Developmental, Regenerative and Stem Cell Biology Program
Molecular Cell Biology Program

  • 314-362-3268

  • 838 Southwest Tower




  • stem cell biology, regeneration, developmental biology, microscopy, single-cell RNA-sequencing, differentiation, tissue engineering, diabetes, organoids, transplantation, therapy

  • Differentiation to and maturation of pancreatic insulin-producing β cells from human pluripotent stem cells capable of rapidly reversing diabetes

Research Abstract:

The Millman laboratory is focused on the use of stem cells for the study and treatment of diabetes. We have discovered the signals necessary to specify glucose-sensing insulin-secreting β cell fate of differentiating human pluripotent stem cells (Cell 2014) and to functionally mature these cells (Stem Cell Reports 2019). These cells are capably of rapidly curing mice of diabetes upon transplantation.

There are three broad focuses of the laboratory. (1) Use our understanding of developmental biology, regeneration, and stem cell biology to study cell fate choice, differentiation, and maturation of β cell. (2) Generation and study of diabetic patient-derived iPS cells, including CRISPR correction of disease-causing mutations. (3) Bioengineering of supportive tissue environments for β cells and study of β cell interactions with its microenvironment.

In the laboratory, we use a wide range of biomolecular techniques: Stem cell culture and differentiation, single-cell RNA-sequencing and bioinformatics, CRISPR and gene editing, 3D organoid culture, microscopy (confocal, electron microscopy), microsurgery into mice, transplantation for diabetes reversal in mice, bioreactors, tissue engineering, metabolic assessment with Seahorse, immunostaining, and both static and dynamic functional assessment.

Mentorship and Commitment to Diversity Statement:
I believe that my scholarly mission goes hand in hand with my professional service activities and support for diversity, equity, and inclusion. I have an established track record of professional service and supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion in my career as an independent investigator. I have experience teaching biological and bioengineering research courses, specifically integrating biological and engineering concepts such as in the graduate-level Markey Pathways series. I supervised the dissertation work for several Ph.D. candidates and supervised the successful defense from both the DBBS and the Department of Biomedical Engineering programs. I have also dedicated much of my time engaging with college and professional students, including undergraduates, and introducing them to a research setting. In addition to my graduate students, I have trained participates from the Amgen Scholars Program, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Medical School program, and undergraduate students from Washington University in St. Louis.

I am the first person in my family to receive a Ph.D. and grew up in a poor, rural community with limited access to education. This upbringing has reinforced my belief that early STEM education and diversity inclusion are crucial for advancing future research and have a strong record of hiring and mentoring women and men from diverse ethnicities, races, cultures, and socioeconomic backgrounds. As such, I have a strong track record in recruiting and training women and individuals from underrepresented minority (URM) backgrounds. I strongly believe that these are excellent opportunities for educational outreach activities to engage students, particularly URM, in STEM to install these interests and ideas early to promote careers and long-time interest in science and engineering.

Since 2016, I developed and partnered with JDRF, a type 1 diabetes patient organization, to bring in school-aged children and their families with type 1 diabetes to tour my laboratory and participate in a day of activities to encourage STEM education. This has allowed for children, their families, and others within the greater diabetes community to see first-hand the diabetes research being conducted and to meet and be inspired by the young people that work in my lab, some of whom have diabetes themselves. In addition, I have given educational seminars to diverse audiences about STEM research in partnership with JDRF, with lay audience primarily consisting of children, their families, and patients with diabetes. I have similarly worked with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes to give talks to lay audiences primarily consisting of elderly individuals wishing to stay engaged and learn about a wide range of scientific topics. I have also recently be interviewed and features on diabetes-related podcasts (The JuiceBox Podcast and The Sugar Science Podcast). These frequent lay speaking engagements allows me to further expand awareness of STEM and synergizes with the program I developed to bring in individuals into my laboratory.

In addition to my scholarship, mentorship, and outreach/volunteer work, I have been actively engaged in other types of professional service. Within my university, I have taken on a leadership role in the Diabetes Research Center by supervising and advising on members use of core metabolic profiling equipment. I am a co-organizer for weekly islet biology interest group meetings and monthly stem cell biology work-in-process meetings. I am a PI multiple grants from the NIH, JDRF, and the biotechnology industry. Outside of my university, I have served as an external expert advisor for an European Union-funded diabetes initiative at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin and am currently an external expert advisor for the NIH Human Islet Research Network (HIRN) Consortium on Human Islet Biology (CHIB). Finally, I was invited and participated in a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) symposium to educate them on stem cells in the use of diabetes cell replacement therapy.

Selected Publications:

Hogrebe et al. Targeting the cytoskeleton to direct pancreatic differentiation of human pluripotent stem
cells. Nature Biotechnology. 2020 Apr;38(4):460-470. doi: 10.1038/s41587-020-0430-6

Maxwell et al. Gene-edited human stem cell-derived β cells from a patient with monogenic diabetes reverse preexisting diabetes in mice. Science Translational Medicine. 2020 Apr 22;12(540):eaax9106. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aax9106

Augsornworawat et al. Single-Cell Transcriptome Profiling Reveals β Cell Maturation in Stem Cell-Derived Islets after Transplantation. Cell Reports. 2020 Aug 25;32(8):108067. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108067

Velazco-Cruz et al. SIX2 Regulates Human β Cell Differentiation from Stem Cells and Functional Maturation In Vitro.
Cell Reports. 2020 May 26;31(8):107687. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.107687

Velazco-Cruz et al. Acquisition of Dynamic Function in Human Stem Cell-Derived β Cells. Stem Cell Reports. 2019 Feb 12;12(2):351-365. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2018.12.012

Pagliuca et al. Generation of functional human pancreatic β cells in vitro. Cell. 2014 Oct 9;159(2):428-39. doi:

Millman et al. Generation of stem cell-derived β-cells from patients with type 1 diabetes. Nature Communications. 2016 May 10;7:11463. doi: 10.1038/ncomms11463

Last Updated: 11/23/2021 10:04:01 AM

(left) ß cell organoids differentiated from stem cells expressing mCherry driven by the insulin gene inserted with CRISPR/Cas9. (right) Single-cell RNA-sequencing identification of ß cell, a cell, and d cell populations.
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