In 2002, Debra Miller was working in publishing and as a stock trader when her only son, Hawken, was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (Duchenne). After a two-year journey to get the Duchenne diagnosis, she realized that there was no treatment and little hope offered for a cure, so Debra and her husband, Paul, founded CureDuchenne. Their idea was simple: to raise funds in a venture philanthropy business model to support promising early scientific research to find a cure for Duchenne.
Sixteen years later, Debra can claim responsibility for raising over $30 million dollars which has been invested into scientific research and educational programs. To date, 12 projects CureDuchenne funded have progressed to human clinical trials. One CureDuchenne funded project resulted in the first FDA approved drug for Duchenne.
With a commitment to improving the lives of all boys and young men with Duchenne, Debra also initiated the first Duchenne Physical Therapy certification program, which has trained over 400 Physical Therapists and certified nearly 50 across the U.S. to date. She is also responsible for launching the CureDuchenne Cares program that hosts over 12 workshops and summits each year around the country to provide the Duchenne community with information, resources and training in best practices for managing the challenges of Duchenne and to improve a patient’s life.
Today, Debra manages all programs for CureDuchenne, CureDuchenne Cares, and CureDuchenne Ventures. She oversees a team of 19 scientists, program managers, development specialists and multiple large-scale annual fundraising events. Debra tirelessly works to deliver new products and programs that will address the whole journey of the Duchenne patient, from diagnosis to adult care to accelerating treatments to patients.
Debra, a native Californian, graduated from Mariner’s High School in Huntington Beach and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from the University of California – Los Angeles.
Prior to CureDuchenne, Miller had a career in publishing with positions at IDG Communications, Cahners Publishing, Ziff-Davis Publishing and Scholastic Publishing. She also worked in management at PC Magazine and was an independent stock trader.