Jason Miller, MD, PhD

James Grosfeld Professor and Assistant Professor

Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

Graduate Program in Cellular and Molecular Biology

Jason obtained his undergraduate degree from Stanford University, working with the Department of Ophthalmology on the biology of tissue interactions from plasma-based microsurgical cutting devices. He obtained his MD-PhD from University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Gladstone Institutes, where he studied cell culture models of Huntington's disease with Steve Finkbeiner, MD, PhD. He did a combined postdoctoral fellowship, residency, and clinical fellowship in medical retina all at the Kellogg Eye Center at the University of Michigan under the mentorship of Debra Thompson, PhD, and David Zacks, MD, PhD. He started his faculty position in September 2021, and is deeply dedicated to building a lab focused on career development (and job satisfaction) for his lab members. Outside of lab, Jason enjoys time with his three young kiddos, pointless intellectual debates with old friends, cooking, wishing he exercised more, and instead succumbing to Netflix binge-watching.

Qitao Zhang, PhD

Research Investigator 

Qitao obtained his PhD at Peking University in Beijing, China. He works on myriad RPE projects, ranging from optimizing cell culture, developing RPE culture models of AMD, and testing our most promising therapeutic targets in mouse, rat, and rabbit animal models. He is fearless at trying new methods and techniques and is known as the go-to guy for troubleshooting. He tells a good joke more often than now and then. He strongly objects to Jason's vegetarian ways, countering his diet with a healthy daily serving of tasty meat.

Gillian Gulette, MS

Research Staff and Co-Lab Manager  

Gillian got her Masters from Eastern Michigan University. She is a cell culture expert, focusing on assaying for autophagy and lipid handling in RPE cultures. She is a master of organization, able to juggle 7 zillion to-do items with aplomb, and willing to teach others with enviable patience. At home, she's mom to two dogs and cats. For reasons we can't understand, she enjoys being up before 7 am for walks. Hobbies include volunteering at a metro-Detroit animal shelter, reading, and listening to true crimes podcasts. She's also excellent at baking but won't admit it.

Kecia got her Bachelor's from Eastern Michigan University. She is the Co-Lab Manager, after 20+ years as the Lab Manager for Debra Thompson at the Kellogg Eye Center, where she worked on the biology and gene therapy for visual cycle defects. She's an expert in retinoid analysis, cloning, gene therapy, a range of biochemical assays, and keeping all of us on top of our protocols, safety, and orders. Kecia has a cat joke available and ready at any point. She is also a big hiker, including foraging for ramps and all sorts of mushrooms.

Aaron denDekker, PhD

Senior Research Staff

Aaron obtained his PhD at University of Louisville followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in Yali Dou's lab and a Research Investigator position in Kathy Gallagher's lab at University of Michigan. After a brief stint at a start-up bioinformatics company, he joined the Miller Lab in 2022 as a senior scientist. Aaron's background is in biochemistry and epigenetics, and he's equally comfortable at the bench and at the computer. He is never short of a story, and his outgoing nature makes him capable of making friends with all living beings and even some inanimate rocks. In the Miller lab, Aaron splits time between bioinformatic analysis of transcriptomic datasets and helping determine the lipid secretion profiles of the RPE under various conditions.

John obtained his PhD from Thomas Jefferson University in April 2023. His thesis work in the lab of Nancy Philp involved in vivo examination of the role of glucose and lactate transporters in outer retinal function. Joining the lab in April 2023, John has significant expertise in retinal and RPE metabolism, as well as in vivo models of retinal disease. His ultimate scientific goal is to direct a lab examining the intersection between metabolism and epigenetic changes in neurodegenerative diseases. John is working on screens involving RPE lipid secretion and metabolism, as well as exploring lipid droplet biology. John has myriad interests outside of lab, including city planning and architecture, and you can find him biking, hiking, or camping with friends outside lab.

Kaitlyn Digsby, BS

Graduate Student

Kaitlyn obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of South Carolina in biochemistry and molecular biology. She worked in the College of Pharmacy studying palbociclib resistance in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, which inspired her pursuit of a PhD from the University of Michigan. In her free time, Kaitlyn enjoys reading fantasy novels, indoor rock climbing, and admiring her plant collection. Joining the lab in April 2023, Kaitlyn works on translating autophagy inducers from cell culture into animal models while exploring the mechanisms driving the polarity of apoE secretion in the RPE. She is heavily involved in a range of extracurriculars, including the consulting group MiLEAD as well as various mentorship programs for undergrads and URMs.

Nathan is an undergraduate student studying Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology with a minor in Business. Nathan discovered his passion for basic science research studying the fundamental mechanisms of autophagy in the lab of Dr. Daniel Klionsky, where he is now working to complete an honors thesis. In 2023, Nathan completed a summer internship with Dr. Ula Jurkunas at the Schepen’s Eye Research Institute, where he investigated the role of oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction in the pathology of Fuch’s Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy (FECD). In the Miller lab, Nathan is examining autophagy and mitochondrial respiration. In his free time, Nathan sings in the Men’s Glee Club and enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing and rock climbing. Following graduation, Nathan wants to pursue training as a clinician-scientist. 

Praneet Voleti

Undergraduate Student

Praneet is an undergraduate student interested in pursuing a career that combines math and the health sciences. He joins the Miller lab having done lab courses but wanting to better understand how "real-world" lab science is done. He works with Miller Lab graduate student extraordinaire Kaitlyn Digsby on apolipoprotein E trafficking. Outside of the lab, Praneet is involved in teaching leadership skills to fellow students and partaking in STEM-related clubs. He has a deep passion for music and plays several instruments, and Praneet also enjoys playing board and card games with friends and family.  

Alumni and Past Rotation Students

(since lab started in fall 2021)


Fares Refai

In Lab:

Rotation, Summer 2022


Influence of ABCA1 on polarized secretion of apoE by the RPE

Where are they now? 

University of

Oklahoma Medical School


Bonje Obua

In Lab:

Rotation, Fall 2022


Influence of hypoxia on polarized secretion of apoE by the RPE

Where are they now? 

University of

Michigan Graduate School

Some Lab Pics