José Luis Millán, Ph.D.

José Luis Millán, Ph.D. headshot

José Luis Millán, Ph.D.

Fax: (858) 646-3195

José Luis Millán's Research Focus

Bone Mineralization Disorders, Colorectal Cancer, Testicular Cancer, Heart Disease, Peripheral Vascular Disease, Arthritis, Crohn’s Disease (Colitis), Metabolic Syndrome, Cardiovascular Diseases, Inherited Disorders
Cardiovascular Biology, Extracellular Matrix, Protein Structure-Function Relationships, Disease Therapies
Cardiovascular System, Musculoskeletal System, Vasculature

The Millán laboratory works on understanding the mechanisms that control normal skeletal and dental mineralization and elucidating the pathophysiological abnormalities that lead to heritable soft bones conditions such as Hypophosphatasia (HPP) and to soft-tissue calcification, including vascular calcification, that is a hallmark feature in patients affected by a variety of rare genetic diseases as well as in chronic kidney disease. Dr. Millan’s research has already contributed to the implementation of a novel therapy for HPP, a genetic disease caused by deficiency in tissue-nonspecific alkaline phosphatase (TNAP) function, that leads to accumulation in the extracellular space of inorganic pyrophosphate (PPi), a potent inhibitor of mineralization. HPP is characterized by defective mineralization of bones (rickets or osteomalacia), and teeth that display a lack of acellular cementum, hypomineralized dentin and enamel, and periodontal defects. Dr. Millán’s team has demonstrated the effectiveness of enzyme replacement therapy using mineral-targeted recombinant TNAP (asfotase alfa) to prevent the skeletal and dental defects in the TNAP knockout mouse model of infantile HPP. This therapy was approved in 2015 for the treatment of patients with pediatric-onset HPP.

Current efforts in Dr. Millán’s laboratory are focused on clarifying aspects of HPP disease whose pathophysiology are not yet well understood, such as the premature fusion of skull bones (craniosynostosis) and calcification of the kidney parenchyma (nephrocalcinosis). Dr. Millán’s group has also identified key pathophysiological changes that lead to calcification of the arteries in animal models of generalized arterial calcification of infancy and related genetic diseases as well as in animal models of chronic kidney disease. His group, in collaboration with scientists at the Conrad Prebys Center for Chemical Genomics at SBP, has developed proprietary compounds able to ameliorate the soft-tissue calcification in these conditions and clinical trials are now underway using these first-in-class compounds.

José Luis Millán's Bio

After receiving his early training in clinical chemistry/biochemistry at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dr. Millán first joined the La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation (LJCRF) in 1977, the predecessor of SBP, as a trainee in clinical enzymology. He completed his Ph.D. studies in Medical Biochemistry at the University of Umeå, Sweden and after post-doctoral stints in Copenhagen and LJCRF he was appointed to the faculty at SBP in 1986. He served as Professor of Medical Genetics in the Department of Medical Biosciences at his alma mater, Umeå University, Sweden, from 1995-2000. He was appointed Sanford Investigator at the Sanford Children’s Health Research Center at SBP in 2008.


Honors and Recognition

  • 1992 - Honorary title of AcadémicoCorresponsal at the Royal Academy of Medicine and Surgery, Murcia, Spain.
  • 2001 - Gold Medal of the Royal Academy of Medicine and Surgery, Murcia, Spain
  • ASBMR 2018 Lawrence G. Raisz Award for Pre-clinical Research.


Other Affiliations

Member - Scientific Advisory Board, Soft Bones

Human Genetics Accessory


Tissue-nonspecific Alkaline Phosphatase Regulates Purinergic Transmission in the Central Nervous System During Development and Disease.

Sebastián-Serrano Á, de Diego-García L, Martínez-Frailes C, Ávila J, Zimmermann H, Millán JL, Miras-Portugal MT, Díaz-Hernández M

Comput Struct Biotechnol J 2015 ;13:95-100

Design, synthesis and evaluation of benzoisothiazolones as selective inhibitors of PHOSPHO1.

Bravo Y, Teriete P, Dhanya RP, Dahl R, Lee PS, Kiffer-Moreira T, Ganji SR, Sergienko E, Smith LH, Farquharson C, Millán JL, Cosford ND

Bioorg Med Chem Lett 2014 Sep 1 ;24(17):4308-11

Show All Select Publications

Increased PHOSPHO1 expression mediates cortical bone mineral density in renal osteodystrophy.

Hsu SN, Stephen LA, Dillon S, Milne E, Javaheri B, Pitsillides AA, Novak A, Millán JL, MacRae VE, Staines K, Farquharson C

J Endocrinol 2022 Jul 1 ;

Ultrasensitive Diamond Microelectrode Application in the Detection of Ca2+ Transport by AnnexinA5-Containing Nanostructured Liposomes.

Pasquarelli A, Andrilli LHS, Bolean M, Reis Ferreira C, Cruz MAE, de Oliveira FA, Ramos AP, Millán JL, Bottini M, Ciancaglini P

Biosensors (Basel) 2022 Jul 14 ;12(7)

NPP1 and TNAP hydrolyze ATP synergistically during biomineralization.

Andrilli LHS, Sebinelli HG, Favarin BZ, Cruz MAE, Ramos AP, Bolean M, Millán JL, Bottini M, Ciancaglini P

Purinergic Signal 2022 Jul 23 ;

Inhibition of alkaline phosphatase impairs dyslipidemia and protects mice from atherosclerosis.

Bessueille L, Kawtharany L, Quillard T, Goettsch C, Briolay A, Taraconat N, Balayssac S, Gilard V, Mebarek S, Peyruchaud O, Duboeuf F, Bouillot C, Pinkerton A, Mechtouff L, Buchet R, Hamade E, Zibara K, Fonta C, Canet-Soulas E, Millan JL, Magne D

Transl Res 2022 Jun 17 ;

TNAP upregulation is a critical factor in Tauopathies and its blockade ameliorates neurotoxicity and increases life-expectancy.

Sebastián-Serrano Á, Merchán-Rubira J, Di Lauro C, Bianchi C, Soria-Tobar L, Narisawa S, Millán JL, Ávila J, Hernández F, Díaz-Hernández M

Neurobiol Dis 2022 Apr ;165:105632

Langmuir monolayers and proteoliposomes as models of matrix vesicles involved in biomineralization.

Ramos AP, Bolean M, Cruz MAE, Andrilli LHS, Nogueira LFB, Sebinelli HG, Dos Santos ALN, Favarin BZ, Macedo JMM, Veschi EA, Ferreira CR, Millán JL, Bottini M, Ciancaglini P

Biophys Rev 2021 Dec ;13(6):893-895

Show All Publications