Robert F. Miller

photo credit: University of Minnesota Medical School

The 2016 American Legion Family Brain Sciences Lecture

How close are we to a cure for schizophrenia?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Mayo Auditorium
3:45 PM American Legion Family Brain Sciences Awards
4:00 PM Lecture

Robert F. Miller laboratoryRobert F. Miller

Robert F. Miller, MD, PhD

3M Bert Cross Professor of Neuroscience
University of Minnesota


"This year we completed preliminary studies on signals from the eye that may be related to schizophrenia. We have demonstrated significant differences between schizophrenics and the control group and are entering a new phase of our study to see if prodromic subjects can be rescued from psychosis by early intervention using non-psychotic drugs."
Reprinted from

A Window on Schizophrenia

In the 1970s, when angel dust emerged as a popular drug among the disco crowd, emergency departments around the country began reporting that patients were being rushed from the dance floor to the ED exhibiting symptoms identical to those found among people who have schizophrenia — visual and auditory hallucinations, experiences of profound dissociation, disordered thinking, bouts of paranoia, and others.

Researchers soon discovered that angel dust interfered with the functioning of a receptor called NMDA, found in the nervous system. Later, research would find that NMDA receptor dysfunction is implicated in schizophrenia.

This connection has led University neuroscientist Robert F. Miller, M.D., holder of the 3M Bert Cross Chair in Visual Neuroscience, to look for ways to identify people who might develop schizophrenia by examining the ganglion cells of the retina using an enhanced form of a 10-minute eye test called a pattern ERG. By having patients stare at a brightly lit checkerboard pattern of shifting dark and light squares, it's possible to stimulate the ganglion cells — and determine, by their response, whether NMDA sites located on those cells are compromised, Miller says.
Reprinted from



Updated April 20, 2016