An exceptionally agile mind and an early interest in science fiction provided the fertile soil and the seed for scientist Benjamin Miller's diverse career at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Miller is associate professor of dermatology, biochemistry, biophysics and biomedical engineering-all of which, colleagues say, he uses to extend the realm of the possible with the ultimate goal of making science more useful to people. Miller's research spans molecular design, synthetic organic chemistry and the structural analysis of biological molecules, addressing problems ranging from muscular dystrophy to hospital-acquired infections. The reach of his research, which bridges the medical school and the university, makes him extremely valuable, says colleague Philippe Fauchet from the electrical and computer engineering department. "In many ways, he is the liaison between what's happening on campus in terms of nanotechnology and what is happening at the medical school and their needs," Fauchet says. To meet those needs, Miller founded two startup companies that share the goal of developing faster, simpler and more information-rich medical diagnostic devices in the form of chip-based sensors. At one of his firms, Adarza BioSystems Inc., the focus is on developing inexpensive methods of protein detection in a range of biological fluids. The other company, Lighthouse Biosciences LLC, is commercializing a DNA detection system called NanoLantern to diagnose conditions such as urinary tract infections, while reducing the expense and delay of sending samples to laboratories. Miller says his long-term vision is for patients to perform certain diagnostic tests at home in lieu of going to the doctor's office. Just as people sometimes look in the mirror in the morning to get an overall view of their health, patients one day will have on-demand feedback about their health status at the molecular level, Miller says. "I think if we get to the point that a lot of the routine reasons we go to the doctor for now we can take care of with something as simple to use as a toaster, that will free up medical doctors for dealing with things that are more complex and for them more interesting-and it will also greatly simplify our lives," Miller says. "If we can get to that point, it's going to be a very useful thing." Also a member of the university's Center for Future Health, Miller has co-authored 80 scientific papers and book chapters and received 12 patents. He has lectured at 90 universities and conferences worldwide. Fauchet calls Miller a renaissance man for his multidisciplinary background as a scientist, his ability as a businessman and his ease as a communicator.