Michael J. Rossi, Ph.D.

Michael J. Rossi Headshot
Interim Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

College of Arts and Sciences

B.S., Biology, Xavier University, 1983

Ph.D., Biology, University of Kentucky, 1990

Post-doctoral training, University of Florida, College of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Teaching interests

I primarily teach in the M.S. Cellular and Molecular Biology program that I created for the University in 1995. My favorite courses are Cell Culture Techniques with Laboratory, Cellular Biology and Protein Biochemistry and Enzymology, although I have taught nearly all of the core courses in the program at one time or another.

When I teach undergraduate courses, my favorite classes are Cell Biology, Developmental Biology and Histology. These are classes that all emphasize the actions of individual cells in the maintenance of the entire organism. Fully understanding each of these topics is very important in understanding current pharmaceutical and medical advancements.

In the lectures, I stress problem solving and the ability to apply the material that students learn in the course. I feel this is critical to being a strong scientist and while this is tough for students at first, it makes our students very strong when they complete the program. In the classes with laboratories, I go beyond this to also insist that student become technically proficient in basic skill related to the lab. For example, by the end of the Cell Culture course and the Cell Biology Laboratory, our students are very strong at mammalian cell culture techniques and trouble shooting. This has been very helpful to them as they have developed after our program.


Changes in cellular attachment associated with metastasis in breast cancer

This work developed models of epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) progression from clones of established breast cancer cell lines and correlated the behaviors to the expression and activation of cell attachment pathway proteins. For carcinomas the initial EMT is critical in the formation of a mobile population of cells potentially capable of establishing metastases. This transition step requires the change in expression and regulation of a host of proteins. These cells normally have very specific attachment to the neighboring cells that determine the tissue architecture. By selecting subclones of established breast cancer cell lines that have gained mesenchymal characteristics, we will have model systems that permit comparisons between the original epithelial state and the potentially more invasive state. Proteins such as the cadherins, integrins and integrin-linked kinase have been shown to play a role in EMT in systems where the expression is manipulated. This study expanded on this by looking at the proteins' expression and activity in cells that have spontaneously, or in response to various extracellular matrices, made the EMT.


My work over the years has covered many topics from muscle development to cancers. Most of my work has involved fertility and cancers. A listing of recent papers and conference proceedings with students can be found here. A more complete listing of my bibliography is available at the NCBI link.

Recent student projects I have directed are listed in our Cellular and Molecular Biology pages. Many of these have links to posters completed by the students. You can find them at Rossi Lab Student Research.

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