Miller Lab

In recent years, next-generation sequencing has greatly increased knowledge of genomic and transcriptomic alterations likely associated with tumorigenesis in pediatric brain cancer. Despite these discoveries, there remains a critical need to develop new treatment paradigms that decrease recurrence of brain tumors, as these tumor types are now the leading cause of disease-related death in children. Characterizing the tumor immune microenvironment has been at the forefront of many ongoing cancer research and drug development studies, as immunotherapy is considered one of the most promising treatments in cancer medicine today. 

The Miller Lab’s research efforts focus on the characterization of immune cell infiltration in pediatric brain tumor samples using state-of-the-art technologies including transcriptome sequencing, single cell RNA-sequencing and spatial multiplex protein profiling. In these efforts, its team seeks to parallel studies in adult cancers in an effort to explore the similarities and differences in the pediatric brain tumor setting. In addition, the lab’s research will be particularly important for comparing primary to recurrent tumors, detecting progression-related events and identifying patients who are likely to respond to emergent immunotherapy modalities such as oncolytic viruses or personalized vaccines.

Dr. Miller also helps direct single cell operations in the Steve and Cindy Rasmussen Institute for Genomic Medicine and has several collaborations across Nationwdie Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University in neuro-oncology, epilepsy and immunology with a focus on single cell RNA-sequencing.

Lab Staff

Katherine Miller

Katherine E. Miller, PhD
Principal Investigator

Katherine (Katie) Miller, PhD, is a Principal Investigator in the Institute for Genomic Medicine (IGM) at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and a Research Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Katie leads a research laboratory with a focus on studying cancer genomics and the tumor immune microenvironment in pediatric central nervous system tumors. She also helps direct single cell operations within IGM.

Jason Navarro

Jason Navarro
Chief Research Associate

Jason Navarro is the lab’s chief research associate. He works on collaborative projects utilizing single-cell RNA-sequencing to understand brain disease. Some of his current work involves studying the epilepsy-associated gene SLC35A2 and optimizing the bulk tissue to sequencing process for finding somatic mosaic mutations with low variant allele frequency in brain tissue.

Jason is originally from Las Vegas. He studied Cellular & Molecular Biology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He joined the Miller and Bedrosian Labs in 2021 after three years working in new product development in the biotech industry and six years as a researcher at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

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Lakshmi Prakruthi Rao Venkata, MS, MB (ASCP)CM
Genetic Technologist I

Lakshmi Prakruthi Rao Venkata is a genetic technologist whose research focuses on gene expression studies in pediatric brain tumors. She has been instrumental in the clinical validation for pediatric brain tumor methylation profiling.

Lakshmi completed her master’s degree in Immunology at the University of Cincinnati in 2018 and is certified by the American Society for Clinical Pathology as a technologist in molecular biology.

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Jesse Westfall, MS
Bioinformatics Analyst

Jesse Westfall is a bioinformatics analyst whose research focuses on developing experimental and analytical pipelines for single-cell genomics and proteomics in pediatric cancer and epilepsy. 

Jesse earned a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Miami University and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from The Ohio State University and Clemson University, respectively.

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Olivia Grischow
Research Assistant

Olivia Grischow is a research assistant. In her research, she analyzes germline variants in pediatric cancer and epilepsy patients and performs targeted sequencing on variants with low allele frequency. Olivia aspires to attend graduate school to become a genetic counselor and continue working with pediatric patients with cancer.

Olivia obtained her bachelor’s degree from the Ohio State University, where she majored in Molecular Genetics and graduated with a research distinction honor in Molecular Genetics after defending a thesis that was curated and carried out in the Miller/Mardis Labs. 

Nationwide Children's Research Staff

Adithe Rivaldi
Research Assistant

Adithe Rivaldi is a research assistant in the Miller Lab. His current research includes utilization of high-depth targeted DNA sequencing and spatial transcriptomics to profile disease tissue from pediatric patients with cancer or epilepsy. Adithe earned his bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience (Systems/Behavioral) from The Ohio State University where he worked in a research lab studying neural stem and progenitor cells.

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Bilaal Said
Research Intern

Bilaal Said is a research intern and a medical laboratory assistant at Nationwide Children's Hospital. His research interests include next-generation sequencing and identifying cancer-predisposing germline mutations in humans. Bilaal aspires to become a physician and plans to attend medical school.

Bilaal currently attends Miami University. He is pursuing undergraduate degrees in Medical Laboratory Science and Microbiology while minoring in Nutrition and Bioinformatics.