Michelle Steinhilb
Associate Professor
Department of Biology
Genetics, Biotechnology, Neuroscience
Biosciences 3105

Dr. Steinhilb is a professor of Biology at Central Michigan University


  • B.S., Wayne State University, 1996
  • Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2002
  • Postdoc., Harvard Medical School, 2002-2006

Teaching Areas

  • Genetics
  • Biotechnology
  • Neuroscience

Research Fields

  • Genetic Models of Human Neurodegenerative Disease
  • Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology

Current Research Projects

Research in my lab focuses on understanding the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s disease using the powerful molecular and genetic tools available in the model organism Drosophila melanogaster (the fruit fly). Alzheimer’s disease belongs to a group of related disorders known as “tauopathies” whose common pathology involves tau, a microtubule-associated protein that is highly abundant in neurons. Normally, tau physically interacts with microtubules to help cells maintain their shape and transport critical substances to cellular locations where they are needed. Alzheimer’s disease conditions, however, lead to a breakdown of normal tau function. To investigate the role of tau in disease, our lab uses several approaches, including Drosophila genetics, tissue culture, molecular biology, biochemistry, and microscopy. We hope to ultimately learn more about the underlying causes of tau toxicity in order to help others to develop new treatment strategies to prevent or cure Alzheimer’s disease.


  • Reinecke JB, DeVos SL, McGrath JP, Shepard AM, Goncharoff DK, et al. Implicating calpain in tau-mediated toxicity in vivo. PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e23865. PubMed PMID: 21858230; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3157467.
  • Steinhilb ML, Dias-Santagata D, Fulga TA, Felch DL, Feany MB. Tau phosphorylation sites work in concert to promote neurotoxicity in vivo. Mol Biol Cell. 2007 Dec;18(12):5060-8. PubMed PMID: 17928404; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2096612.
  • Steinhilb ML, Dias-Santagata D, Mulkearns EE, Shulman JM, Biernat J, et al. S/P and T/P phosphorylation is critical for tau neurotoxicity in Drosophila. J Neurosci Res. 2007 May 1;85(6):1271-8. PubMed PMID: 17335084.
  • Fulga TA, Elson-Schwab I, Khurana V, Steinhilb ML, Spires TL, et al. Abnormal bundling and accumulation of F-actin mediates tau-induced neuronal degeneration in vivo. Nat Cell Biol. 2007 Feb;9(2):139-48. PubMed PMID: 17187063.
  • Khurana V, Lu Y, Steinhilb ML, Oldham S, Shulman JM, et al. TOR-mediated cell-cycle activation causes neurodegeneration in a Drosophila tauopathy model. Curr Biol. 2006 Feb 7;16(3):230-41. PubMed PMID: 16461276.
  • Steinhilb ML, Turner RS, Gaut JR. ELISA analysis of beta-secretase cleavage of the Swedish amyloid precursor protein in the secretory and endocytic pathways. J Neurochem. 2002 Mar;80(6):1019-28. PubMed PMID: 11953452.
  • Steinhilb ML, Turner RS, Gaut JR. The protease inhibitor, MG132, blocks maturation of the amyloid precursor protein Swedish mutant preventing cleavage by beta-Secretase. J Biol Chem. 2001 Feb 9;276(6):4476-84. PubMed PMID: 11084038.