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Emeritus Professor Robert (Bob) Millar PhD, MRC Path (Chem), FRCP Path (Chem)

Receptor Biology Group

Bob Millar

Full Member, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine; Department of Integrative Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, UCT;  Professor and Director, Centre for Neuroendocrinology, University of Pretoria; Research Fellow, Centre of Integrative Physiology, University of Edinburgh, UK.

Bob Millar's research focuses on peptide regulators of reproductive hormones. He pioneered the discovery of the GnRH prohormone, novel GnRH structures, and the first cloning of the GnRH I and GnRH II receptors. His laboratory delineated GnRH binding sites and the molecular mechanisms underlying receptor activation and coupling. He has participated in, and led, a number of programmes developing GnRH analogues for use in a wide range of clinical pathologies. His group's research on direct antiproliferative effects of selective GnRH analogues on tumour cells has revealed the novel concept of ligand-induced-selective-signalling by GnRH analogues, which has implications for improved selectivity in the development of new GnRH therapeutics and other GPCR targets. Most recently he has focused on novel GPCRs regulating reproduction, appetite, inflammation, cell invasion and angiogenesis with a particular focus on the RFamides such as metastin/kisspeptin and gonadotropin-inhibitory-hormone, and NKB and prokineticins. He developed kisspeptin antagonists as potential therapeutics in hormone-dependent diseases.

Bob co-directs the UCT/MRC Research Group for Receptor Biology with Dr. Colleen Flanagan (Witswatersrand University) and Prof. Arieh Katz (IDM). The Group's mission is to study the structure and function of G protein-coupled receptors and to apply the research to understanding and treating diseases that have major effects on the social and economic welfare of South Africa. The research of the Group is organized into two themes:

  1. GPCRs in the health and dysfunction of the reproductive system
  2. GPCRs in sexually-transmitted infections

Each theme consists of several research programmes that focus on a specific GPCR and its role in human disease or disorder.


Selected publications:

George JT, Hendrikse M, Veldhuis JD, Clarke IJ, Anderson RA, Millar RP. Effect of gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone on luteinizing hormone secretion in humans. (2017) Clinical Endocrinology 86(5):731-738

Skorupskaite K, George JT, Veldhuis JD, Millar RP, Anderson RA. Neurokinin 3 Receptor Antagonism Reveals Roles for Neurokinin B in the Regulation of Gonadotropin Secretion and Hot Flashes in Postmenopausal Women (2017) Neuroendocrinology

Pineda R, Plaisier F, Millar RP, Ludwig M. Amygdala Kisspeptin Neurons: Putative Mediators of Olfactory Control of the Gonadotropic Axis. (2017) Neuroendocrinology 104(3):223-238

Matjila M, Millar R, Van Der Spuy Z, Katz A. Elevated placental expression at the maternal-fetal interface but diminished maternal circulatory kisspeptin in preeclamptic pregnancies. Pregnancy Hypertension (2016) 6(1):79-87.

Newton CL, Anderson RC, Katz AA, Millar RP. Loss-of-function mutations in the human luteinizing hormone receptor predominantly cause intracellular retention. Endocrinology (2016) 157(11):4364-4377.

Raimondo JV, Tomes H, Irkle A, Kay L, Kellaway L, Markram H, Millar RP, Akerman CJ. Tight coupling of astrocyte pH dynamics to epileptiform activity revealed by genetically encoded pH sensors. Journal of Neuroscience (2016) 36(26): 7002-7013.


Contact details:

Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine
Division of Chemical & Systems Biology, UCT Faculty of Health Sciences
Observatory 7925
South Africa

Tel:  +27 21 406 6263 (Cape Town); +27 12 319 2501 (Pretoria)
Fax: +27 21 406 6061


Alternate sites:


Group members:


Professor Nelly Pitteloud, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Switzerland

Dr Gerd Krause, Leibniz-Institut für molekulare Pharmakologie), Germany

Dr Javier Tello, University of St Andrews, UK

Dr Adolfo Riviero-Muller, University of Turku, Finland

Dr Colleen Flanagan, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Professor Andrea Arnholdt, Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense, Brazil

Professor Ana Claudia Latronico, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil

Professor Iain Clarke, Monash University, Australia

Dr Kevin Morgan, University of Hull, UK

Professor Allan Herbison, University of Otago, New Zealand

Professor Ei Terasawa, University of Wisconsin, USA