Michelle A. (Kurpakus) Wheater, PhD

Associate Professor with Tenure
Director of Research
Department of Biomedical and Diagnostic Sciences
University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry
2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48208-2576, USA



Dr. Wheater received a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Lowa State University, Ames, Iowa, and conducted postdoctoral research at Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois. She is currently the Director of Research and Student Academic Leadership Development and Division Director of Biomedical Sciences at University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry, Detroit, Michigan. Dr. Wheater is a member of the American Dental Education Association and AADR/IADR.

Research Interest

Her research interests include: An investigation of the effect of polyphenols and other natural molecules as anti-inflammatory and wound healing agents.

Scientific Activities


•(1982-1992) American Society for Cell Biology
•(1989-2004) Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
•(1998-2000) Member, Womens Affairs Committee
•(2004-Present) American Dental Education Association
•(2006-2010) Liaison, ADEA CCI
•(2008-2012) Member, Council of Faculties
•(2009-2013) MedEdPortal Advisory Board
•(2009-2010) Leadership Institute Fellow
•(2012-2013) Chair, Basic Science Caucus
•(2011-2012) Secretary, Anatomical Sciences Section
•(2012-2013) Chair-Elect, Anatomical Science Section
•(2013-2014) Chair, Anatomical Sciences Section
•(2005-Present) International Association for Dental Research


School of Dentistry

•(2005-2007) Advisor to Dental Hygiene Class of 2007
•(2009-2013) Advisor to Dental Class of 2013
•(2005) Chair, Search Committee, Faculty, Diagnostic Sciences
•(2013) Search Committee, Faculty, Department of Endodontics
•(2014) Search Committee, Faculty, Department of Periodontics
•(2014) Chair, Search Committee, Faculty, Department of Biomedical and Diagnostic Sciences

School of Dentistry Standing Committees

•(2005-2009) Dental Hygiene Curriculum Committee
•(2005-Present) Academic Performance Committees
•(2005-2008) Faculty Development Committee
•(2006-2008) Chair
•(2008-Present) Ex officio
•(2005-2007) Committee on Committees
•(2013-2015) Committee on Committees
•(2006-2007) Research Committee
•(2007-Present) Ex officio

School of Dentistry Ad Hoc Committees

•(2008-2009) Strategic Planning Committee
•(2010-2013) Implementation Committee
•(2010-2014) CODA Compliance Committee
•(2012-Present) SoTL Curriculum and Innovation Initiative Committee
•(2012-2014) SOD PreDoctoral Dental Self-Study Steering Committee
•(2012-2014) AdHoc Committee 2 for Self Study
•(2012-2014) AdHoc Committee 9 for Self Study, Chair
•(2013) CODA Narrative Group

University Standing Committees

•(2006-Present) Institutional Review Board (Secretary)
•(2008-2010) Faculty Development Team

University Ad Hoc Committees

•(2010-Present) OSPRA Advisory Committee
•(2011-Present) Conflict of Interest Committee
•(2013-Present) Grants Review Team


•(2008, 2011) UDM School of Dentistry Community Open House
•(2009) MIDOR Michigan Day of Oral Health
•(2010, 2012) Give Kids a Smile Day
•(2012) ADEA Online Career Fair Academic Dentistry Booth Monitor
•(2014) Reviewer for AAMC Medical Education meeting programming
•(2011-2014) Reviewer for ADEA programming (workshops, seminars, posters)


•(1989-1991) NIH/National Eye Institute National Research Service Award (1989-1991)
•(1992) Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology Travel Fellowship
•(1997, 2000) Wayne State University School of Medicine College Teaching Award
•(2004, 2005) UDMSOD Outstanding Didactic Faculty Member
•(2005, 2006) Whos Who in America
•(2005) AcademicKeys Whos Who in Medical Sciences Education


1. Klatte DH, Kurpakus MA, Grelling KA, Jones JCR. Immunochemical characterization of three components of the hemidesmosome and their expression in cultured epithelial cells. J Cell Biol. 1989; 109: 3377-3390.
2. Kurpakus MA, Stock EL, Jones JCR. Expression of the 55-kD/64-kD corneal keratins in ocular surface epithelium. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1990; 31: 448-456.
3. Kurpakus MA, Stock EL, Jones JCR. Analysis of wound healing in an in vitro model: early appearance of laminin and a 125×103 Mr polypeptide during adhesion complex formation. J Cell Sci. 1990; 96: 651-660.
4. Kurpakus MA, Jones JCR. A novel hemidesmosomal plaque component: tissue distribution and incorporation into assembling hemidesmosomes in an in vitro model. Exp Cell Res. 1991; 194: 139-146. doi:10.1016/0014-4827(91)90143-I
5. Jones JCR, Kurpakus MA, Cooper HM, Quaranta V. A function for the integrin alpha6beta4 in the hemidesmosome. Cell Reg. 1991; 2: 427-438.
6. Lichtor T, Kurpakus MA, Guerney M. Differential expression of insulin-like growth factor in human meningiomas. Neurosurg. 1991; 29: 405-410.
7. Kurpakus MA, Quaranta V, Jones JCR. Surface relocation of alpha6beta4 integrins and assembly of hemidesmosomes in an in vitro model of wound healing. J Cell Biol. 1991; 115: 1737-1750.
8. Stock EL, Sambol BJ, Kurpakus MA, Jones JCR. Adhesion complex formation after small keratectomy wounds in the cornea. Invest. Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1992; 33: 304-313.
9. Kurpakus MA, Stock EL, Jones JCR. The role of basement membrane in differential expression of keratin proteins in epithelial cells. Dev Biol. 1992; 150: 243-255. doi: 10.1016/0012-1606(92)90239-D
10. Lichtor T, Kurpakus MA, Guerney ME. Expression of insulin-like growth factors and their receptors in human meningiomas. J Neuro-Oncol. 1993; 17: 183-190.
11. Kurpakus MA, Esco M, Maniaci MT. Expression of keratins K12, K4 and K14 during development of the mouse eye. Curr Eye Res. 1994; 13: 805-814.
12. Smithson MW, Kurpakus MA. Localization of a corneal basement membrane glycoconjugate in bovine eye. Curr Eye Res. 1995; 14: 959-968.
13. Hazlett LD, Masinick S, Mezger B, Kurpakus M, Barrett R, Garrett M. Ultrastructural, immunohistological and biochemical characterization of cultured mouse corneal epithelial cells. Ophthalmic Res. 1996; 28: 50-56.
14. Vassallo JC, Kurpakus MA. Nuclear matrix proteins of bovine corneal and conjunctival epithelium. Curr Eye Res. 1996; 15: 899-904.
15. Fujii JT, Su F, Woodbury DJ, Kurpakus MA, Hu XT, Pourcho RI. Plasma membrane calcium ATPase immunoreactivity in synaptic terminals of chick Edinger-Westphal nucleus. Brain Res. 1996; 734: 193-202.
16. Wu X, Kurpakus M, Hazlett LD. Some P. aeruginosa pilus-binding proteins of human corneal epithelium are cytokeratins. Curr Eye Res. 1996; 15: 782-791.
17. Gassner H, Esco M, Smithson MW, Kurpakus MA. Differential effects of transforming growth factors on localization of adhesion complex proteins following corneal epithelial cell wounding. Curr Eye Res. 1997; 16: 387-395.
18. Qin P, Piechocki M, Lu S, Kurpakus MA. Localization of basement membrane-associated protein isoforms during development of the ocular surface of mouse eye. Dev Dyn. 1997; 209: 367-376. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1097-0177(199708)209:4<367::AID-AJA4>3.0.CO;2-G
19. Qin P, Kurpakus MA. The role of laminin-5 in TGF/EGF-mediated corneal epithelial cell motility. Exp Eye Res. 1998; 66: 569-579. doi:10.1006/exer.1997.0455
20. Kurpakus MA, Lin L. The lack of extracellular laminin 2 chain deposition correlates to the loss of conjunctival epithelial keratin K4 localization in culture. Curr Eye Res. 1999; 18: 28-38.
21. Kurpakus MA, Daneshvar C, Davenport J, Kim A. Human corneal epithelial cell adhesion to laminins. Curr Eye Res. 1999; 19: 106-116.
22. Invited Review: Kurpakus-Wheater M, Kernacki KA, Hazlett LD. Corneal cell proteins and ocular surface pathology. Biotech & Histochem. 1999; 74: 146-159.
23. Lin L, Kurpakus-Wheater M. Differential rapid adhesion of bovine ocular surface epithelial cells to laminin isoforms. Curr Eye Res. 1999; 19: 293-299.
24. Invited Review: Kurpakus-Wheater M, Kernacki KA, Hazlett LD. How the “window” stays clear. Prog Histochem Cytochem. 2001; 36: 185-259.
25. Lin L, Daneshvar C, Kurpakus-Wheater M. Evidence for differential signaling in human conjunctival epithelium adherent to laminin isoforms. Exp Eye Res. 2000; 70: 537-546.
26. Kurpakus-Wheater M. Laminin-5 is a component of preserved human amniotic membrane. Curr Eye Res. 2001; 22: 353-357.
27. Esco MA, Wang Z, McDermott ML, Kurpakus-Wheater M. Potential role for laminin-5 in hypoxia-mediated apoptosis of human corneal epithelial cells. J Cell Sci. 2001; 114: 4033-4040.
28. Lin L, Kurpakus-Wheater M. Laminin alpha5 chain adhesion and signaling in conjunctival epithelial cells. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis Sci. 2002; 43: 2615-2621.
29. Sosne G, Hafeez S, Greenberry AL, Kurpakus-Wheater M. Thymosin alpha4 promotes human conjunctival epithelial cell migration. Curr Eye Res. 2002; 24: 268-273.
30. Esco MA, Hazlett LD, Kurpakus-Wheater M. Pseudomonas aeruginosa binds to extracellular matrix deposited by human corneal epithelial cells. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2002; 43: 3654-3659.
31. Wang Z, Kurpakus-Wheater M. Decreased plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 secretion in hypoxic corneal epithelial cells results in increased urokinase plasminogen activator activity. Int J Biochem & Cell Biol. 2003; 35: 339-348.
32. Kurpakus-Wheater M, Sexton R, McDermott ML, Mrock LK, Sosne G. Caspase-9 activation in hypoxic human corneal epithelial cells. Apoptosis. 2003; 8: 681-689.
33. Sosne G, Xu L, Prach L, et al. Thymosin beta 4 stimulates laminin-5 production independent of TGF-beta. Exp Cell Res. 2004; 293: 175-183. doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2003.09.022
34. Dowgiert J, Sosne G, Kurpakus-Wheater M. Laminin-2 stimulates the proliferation of epithelial cells. Cell Proliferation. 2004; 37: 161-175. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2184.2004.00292.x
35. Sosne G, Siddiqi A, Kurpakus-Wheater M. Thymosin beta 4 inhibits corneal epithelial cell apoptosis following ethanol exposure in vitro. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2004; 45: 1095-1100. doi:10.1167/iovs.03-1002
36. Wang Z, Sosne G, Kurpakus-Wheater M. Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) stimulates human corneal epithelial cell adhesion and migration in vitro. Exp Eye Res. 2005; 80: 1-8. doi:10.1016/j.exer.2004.06.006
37. Sosne G, Albeiruti A, Hollis B, Siddiqi A, Ellenberg D, Kurpakus-Wheater M. Thymosin beta 4 inhibits benzalkonium chloride-mediated apoptosis in corneal and conjunctival epithelial cells in vitro. Exp Eye Res. 2006; 83: 502-507. doi:10.1016/j.exer.2006.02.001
38. Sosne G, Qiu P, Christopherson PL, Wheater MK. Thymosin beta 4 suppression of corneal NFkB: a potential anti-inflammatory pathway. Exp Eye Res. 2007; 84: 663-669. doi:10.1016/j.exer.2006.12.004
39. Qiu P, Wheater MK, Sosne G. Matrix metalloproteinase activity is necessary for thymosin beta 4 promotion of epithelial cell migration. J Cell Physiol. 2007; 212: 165-173. doi:10.1002/jcp.21012
40. Sosne, G, Qiu, P, Kurpakus-Wheater M. Thymosin beta 4 and the eye: I can see clearly now the pain is gone. Ann NY Acad Sci. 2007; 1112: 114-122. doi:10.1196/annals.1415.004
41. Sosne G, Qiu P, Kurpakus-Wheater M. Thymosin beta 4: a novel corneal wound healing and anti-inflammatory agent. Clin Ophthalmol. 2007; 1: 1-7.
42. Reti R, Kwon E, Qiu P, Wheater M, Sosne G. Thymosin beta 4 is cytoprotective in human gingival fibroblasts. Eur J Oral Sci. 2008; 116: 424-430. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0722.2008.00569.x.
43. Zhang J, Kumar A, Wheater M, Yu FSX. Lack of MD2 expression in human corneal epithelial cells is an underlying mechanism of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) unresponsiveness. Immunol Cell Biol. 2009; 87: 141-148. doi:10.1038/icb.2008.75.
44. Sosne G, Qui P, Goldstein AL, Wheater M. Biological activities of thymosin 4 defined by active sites in short peptide sequences. FASEB J. 2010; 24: 2144-2151. doi:10.1096/fj.09-142307
45. Sosne G, Qui P, Wheater M. Thymosin beta 4 and corneal wound healing: vision of the future. Ann NY Acad Sci. 2010; 1194: 190-198. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2010.05472.x.
46. John V, Papageorge M, Jahangiri L, et al. Recruitment, development, and retention of dental faculty in a changing environment. J Dent Ed. 2011; 75: 82-89.
47. Damas BA, Wheater M, Bringas J, Hoen M. Cytotoxicity comparison of mineral trioxide aggregates and endosequence bioceramic root repair materials. J Endo. 2011; 37: 372-375. doi:10.1016/j.joen.2010.11.027
48. Qiu P, Wheater M, Sosne G. Thymosin beta 4 inhibits TNF–induced NFB activation, IL-8 expression, and the sensitizing effects by its partners PINCH-1 and ILK. FASEB J. 2011; 25: 1815-1826. doi:10.1096/fj.10-167940
49. Gao N, Kumar A, Guo H, Wheater M, Yu F-S. Topical flagellin-mediated innate defense against Candida albicans keratitis. Invest Opthalmol Vis Sci. 2011; 52: 3074-3082. doi:10.1167/iovs.10-5928
50. Hirschman W, Wheater M, Bringas J, Hoen M. Cytotoxicity comparison of three direct pulp capping materials with a new bioceramic root repair putty. J Endo. 2012; 38: 385-388.
51. Wheater MA, Falvo J, Ruiz F, Byars M. Chlorhexidine, ethanol, LPS and nicotine do not enhance the cytotoxicity of a calcium hydroxide pulp capping material. Int Endo J. 2012; 45: 989-995. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2591.2012.02057.x.
52. Balasundaram A, Shah P, Bringas. Comparison of Cone-Beam Computed Tomography and Periapical Radiography in predicting treatment decision for periapical lesions – A clinical study. Int J Dentistry. 2012; 2012: 920815. doi:10.1155/2012/920815.
53. Kwon E, Cabanilla Jacobs L, Wheater M. Gingival Crevicular Fluid Levels of Thymosin beta4 in Periodontal Health and Disease. J Adv Oral Res. 2013; 4(1): 1-6.
54. Chang K-CJ, Wheater MA, Cabanilla Jacobs L, Litonjua L. Interleukins in Gingival Crevicular Fluid in Patients with Definitive Full Coverage Restorations. Compend Contin Educ Dent. 2014; 35(4): e18-24.
55. Ahmad M, Williams J, Al-Aboussi R, Wheater M. Substance P concentration in saliva of patients who report dental pain. J Adv Oral Res. 2014; 5(2): 1-10.
56. Wheater MA, Mouabbi A. Effects of cotinine on human gingival fibroblast migration. Dent Open J. 2(1): 25-31. doi:10.17140/DOJ_2_106