Biomedical Sciences & Pathobiology Faculty

Michelle H. Theus, PhD

Assistant Professor
Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology
Department of Biomedical Sciences & Pathobiology
Stem Cell Initiative collaborator


  • 2006
    PhD, NeuroPathology and Laboratory Medicine
    Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)
    Charleston, SC
  • 1999
    MT (ASCP) Board Certification
    Clinical Laboratory Scientist Training Program
    University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Center
    Houston, TX
  • 1998
    BS, Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Cum Laude,
    Chemistry and Microbiology minors
    University of Ohio
    Athens, OH

Board Certifications

  • 2000
    Histocompatibility Technical Specialist (ASHI)
  • 1999
    Medical Technologist (MT) (ASCP)
  • 1999
    Clinical Laboratory Scientist (National Crediting Agency)

Research Focus

Recent scientific discoveries have placed stem cell therapy in the spotlight for tissue repair and have raised enthusiasm amongst regenerative medicine scientists. The concept of "self-healing" using the patient's own nature stem cells is an exciting part of translational research since these cells represent a local source for cellular replacement.

The goal of my research is to understand how these innate stem cells contribute to adult central nervous system (CNS) repair following traumatic injury, an area that has very limited regenerative potential. Using a gene-targeted approach, we have identified a novel family of inhibitory proteins called Eph receptors that restrict the growth potential of adult-derived stem cells. Moreover, we hypothesize that the presence of these inhibitory molecules on circulating stem cells may limit the remodeling of the vascular network after CNS damage. Because the extent of acute cell loss and long-term functional recovery is often dictated by local blood supply, vascular repair represents an important primary target for stem cell therapy. To that end, we are currently investigating the effects of blocking Eph receptors, using innovative gene-targeted and systems approaches in combination with vessel painting, on promoting revascularization after CNS injury. These investigations overall are aimed at identifying effective, safe and feasible drug targets that promote stem cell therapy for clinical applications in CNS disorders such as ischemic stroke and traumatic brain injuries.

Professional Experience

  • 2012 – Present
    Assistant Professor, Neuroscience
    Biomedical Sciences & Pathobiology
    Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
    Virginia Tech
    Blacksburg, VA
  • 2006 – 2012
    Postdoctoral Scholar
    Department of Neurosurgery
    The Miami Project to Cure Spinal Cord Paralysis
    University of Miami
    Miami, FL
  • 1999 – 2001
    Histocompatibility Technical Specialist, ASHI certified
    Cleveland Clinic Organ Transplant Center
    Cleveland, OH
  • 1998 – 1999
    Medical Technologist, Phlebotomist, ASCP certified
    M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Center
    Houston, TX

Professional Memberships

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • American Society of Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics
  • American Society of Clinical Laboratory Science
  • American Society of Clinical Pathologists

Selected Publications

  1. Dixon KJ, Theus MH, Nelersa CM, Mier J, Travieso LG, Yu TS, Kernie and Liebl DJ. Endogenous neural stem/progenitor cells stabilize the cortical microenvironment following traumatic brain injury. J Neurotrauma. 2014 Oct; 7.
  2. Theus MH, Ricard J and Liebl DJ. EphrinB3 blocks EphB3 dependence receptor functions to prevent cell death following traumatic brain injury. Cell Death and Disease. 2014 May; 5:e1207.
  3. Theus MH and Liebl DJ. Cellular Therapy for Stroke and CNS Injuries. Chapter 22; Endogenous neural stem cells in response to TBI. 2014. In Press
  4. Morton P, Theus MH, Berge S, and Bethea JR. Activation of NF-kB in Schwann Cells is Dispensable for Myelination in vivo. J. Neuroscience. 2013 June; 33(24): 9932-6.
  5. Baumann G, Travieso L, Liebl DJ, Theus MH. Pronounced hypoxia in the subventricular zone following traumatic brain injury and the neural stem/progenitor cell response. Experimental Biology and Medicine. 2013 July; 238(7): 830-41.
  6. Theus MH, Ricard J and Liebl DJ. Reproducible expansion of mouse neural stem/progenitor cells in adherent cultures derived from the adult subventricular zone. Current Protocols in Stem Cell Biology. 2012 Mar;Chapter 2:Unit 2D.8.
  7. Theus MH, Ricard J, Bethea JR and Liebl DJ. EphB3 Limits the Expansion of Neural Progenitor Cells in the SVZ by Regulating p53 During Homeostasis and Following Traumatic Brain Injury; Stem Cells. 2010 July; 28(7): 1231-1242.
  8. Valle K, Theus MH, Bethea JR, Liebl DJ, Ricard J. Neural progenitor cell proliferation is inhibited by EphB3 in the developing subventricular zone. Int J Dev Neurosci. 2010 Feb, 29(1):9-14.
  9. Zhuang Z, Yang B, Theus MH, Sick J, Bethea JR, Sick T and Liebl DJ. EphrinBs regulate D-serine synthesis and release in astrocytes. J. Neuroscience. 2010 Nov; 30(47): 15-24.
  10. Lang H, Schulte BA, Goddard JC, Hedrick M, Schulte JB, Wei L and Schmiedt RA. Transplantation of mouse embryonic stem cells into the cochlea of an auditory-neuropathy animal model: effects of timing after injury. J Assoc Res Otolaryngol. 2008 Jun; 9(2):225-40.
  11. Theus MH, Cui L, Wei L and Yu SP. Hypoxic preconditioning of embryonic stem cells as a strategy of promoting cell survival and functional benefits after transplantation into the ischemic rat brain. Exp Neurology 2008 April; 210(2):656-70.
  12. Theus MH, Wei L, Francis K and Yu SP. Critical roles of src family tyrosine kinases in neuronal differentiation of cultured embryonic stem cells. Exp Cell Res. 2006 Oct 1; 312(16):3096-107.
  13. Li Z, Theus MH, Wei L. Role of ERK 1/2 signaling in neuronal differentiation of cultured embryonic stem cells. Dev Growth Differ. 2006 Oct; 48(8):513-23.
  14. Wei L, Keogh C, Whitaker R, Theus MH, and Yu SP. Angiogenesis and Transplantation of Embryonic Stem Cells as Potential Treatments of Cerebral Ischemic Stroke. Pathophysiology 2005 Jul; 12(1):47-62.