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Martha Alexander-Miller, PhD

Martha Alexander-Miller, PhD, an expert in immune response, leads an established preclinical neonatal nursery dedicated to translational sciences. She partners with industry to develop neonatal vaccines, investigate immune regulation and conduct other studies that utilize the preclinical neonatal nursery.

Martha Alexander-Miller, PhD

About Martha Alexander-Miller

Martha Alexander-Miller, PhD, completed her doctorate at Washington University in 1993 and a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health in 1997. She spent her early career pursuing functional avidity research, investigating the quality and sensitivity of the T cell. Through her research, she established that not all T cells are equally effective in vivo. Her research findings demonstrated the quality of T cells is just as important as the number for pathogen clearance.

Most notably, Alexander-Miller spearheads the School of Medicine’s development of an influenza vaccine designed for young infants. She has developed a novel approach to preclinical research to accomplish the challenging goal of developing a flu vaccine that is safe to use in infants younger than six months.

To develop a neonatal flu vaccine with translational potential, Alexander-Miller partnered with Jay Kaplan, PhD, director of the Center for Comparative Medicine Research, to develop the world’s first vervet nonhuman primate neonatal nursery for translational science. Historically, nonhuman primates have been sparsely used for neonatal research, even though this model most closely reflects the human developmental process.

Her research interests also include the relationship between the influenza virus and secondary infections, such as bacteria, that result in pneumonia or ear infection. She believes that the environment created by secondary infections interferes with the body’s ability to fight influenza. More effective methods to treat these secondary infections may support the body’s natural immune defenses against the influenza virus.

Alexander-Miller seeks industry partners for the development of neonatal vaccines, but is also interested in additional opportunities to work with industry on projects related to the nonhuman primate model or immune regulation. Her nonhuman primate neonatal nursery is an ideal way for industry to move a discovery related to infants to human trials, and her research team has the capabilities to test a wide variety of infant therapeutics in the nursery.


Martha Alexander-Miller, PhD, chairs the department of microbiology and immunology at Wake Forest School of Medicine and specializes in:

  • T Cell Regulation and Function
  • Vaccine Development
  • Influenza and Other Viruses
  • Bacteria