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Michelle H. Theus, PhD

Professor, Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology
  • Director, Neurotrauma Research Program
Michelle Theus
Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Tech
970 Washington Street SW
Blacksburg, VA 24061

PhD, NeuroPathology and Laboratory Medicine, 2006
Medical University of South Carolina
Charleston, SC

MT (ASCP) Board Certification, 1999
Clinical Laboratory Scientist Training Program
University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Center
Houston, TX

BS, Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Cum Laude, 1998
Minors, Chemistry and Microbiology
University of Ohio
Athens, OH

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

Mechanisms of Brain injury and Repair: Cerebrovascular Remodeling, Neurogenesis and Neuroinflammation

  • Her laboratory studies Eph receptor biology and function following brain injury. Eph receptors and ephrin ligands are developmentally important bi-directional molecules that are vital for neuronal axon growth & guidance, which were discovered to play a critical role in regulating injury-induced vascular remodeling. This research was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Her work interrogates Eph signaling using conditional gene targeted approaches in murine models of stroke, traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic epilepsy.   She use a variety of cellular, molecular and advanced imaging tools to further these investigations with an emphasis on neurovascular and neuroimmune health.
  • Toward the long-term translational goal, her team has invested in testing several novel peptides for their therapeutic potential in treating brain injury while simultaneously developing a cell-targeted systems and other delivery methods aimed at limiting the extend of tissue damage, protecting the blood brain barrier and retooling the neuroinflammatory milieu. 
  • NIH R01 Age-dependent peripheral innate immunity in TBI: Grant duration 6/2021 - 5/2026
  • NIH R01 Mechanisms suppressing pro-resolving innate immunity in TBI: Grant duration 2/2021 - 1/2026 
  • NIH R01 Novel Cellular and Molecular Regulation of Collateral Remodeling in Ischemic Stroke Grant duration: 9/2019 - 6/2024
  • Coronary and cerebrovascular disease remains the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the US, afflicting more than 1.8 million Americans each year. Ischemic injury following vascular occlusion is often dictated by the extent and remodeling of pre-existing pial collateral or "by-pass" vessels (arterogenesis). Our overall goal is to greatly improve our mechanistic understanding of collateral remodeling and how this impacts the microenvironment in which neurons repair themselves. Novel insights into this important adaptive response to vascular obstruction will help advance collaterotherapeutics as a treatment options for neurorestoration after ischemic stroke.


  • NIH R01 Mechanisms Regulating Cerebral Arteriogenesis and Neurorestoration
    Grant duration: 4/2016 - 3/2021

    Promoting vascular remodeling has emerged as a potential therapeutic approach for neurorestorative therapy. Cerebral vascular trauma leads to inadequate cerebral blood flow which potentiates neuronal cell loss resulting in motor and cognitive deficits in models of brain injury. Endothelial cells lining the blood vessels actively respond to tissue trauma. Our novel findings demonstrate, cell-to-cell contact proteins called Eph receptor tyrosine kinases, and their ephrin ligand(s), are present on cerebral arteriole endothelial cells and play a central role in limiting arteriogenesis in the murine brain following injury.

  • Virginia Tech leads $2.6 million study of brain trauma, epilepsy connection
    Virginia Tech is launching a $2.6 million study to determine if traumatic brain injuries can cause changes within the brain that lead to epilepsy. Funded by the nonprofit Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) and the U.S. Department of Defense, the three-year study seeks to identify the root causes behind why a person may develop epilepsy after he or she has suffered brain trauma, including sports-related concussion and focal contusion injuries. Five Virginia Tech groups are heading the study: The School of Neuroscience, part of the College of Science; the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute (VTCRI); the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine; and the College of Engineering. All of the research leaders have wide experience in brain injury and neurological disorders; Michelle Theus will study the role of glial-stem cell interactions in post-traumatic epilepsy across various types of head traumas.

Professor, Neuroscience
Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA

Co-director, Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health Graduate Program
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA

Associate Professor, Neuroscience

Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA

Assistant Professor, Neuroscience

Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology
Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA

Postdoctoral Scholar

Department of Neurosurgery
The Miami Project to Cure Spinal Cord Paralysis
University of Miami
Miami, FL

Histocompatibility Technical Specialist, ASHI-certified

Cleveland Clinic Organ Transplant Center
Cleveland, OH

Medical Technologist, Phlebotomist, ASCP-certified

M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Center
Houston, TX

  • 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