Michael Hortsch
Michael Hortsch
Associate Professor

Research Description

Over the last 20 years my laboratory has investigated the role of cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) in the development, differentiation and functioning of the nervous system. I am interested in learning about their potential involvement in the activation of cellular signaling processes and their role in cell differentiation and gene expression events. Currently, I am focusing on the evolutionary- conserved L1 family of neural CAMs. When mutated in humans, the L1-CAM gene is known to cause mental retardation and other neurological dysfunctions. Over the last 2 years, I have become more focused on teaching. I am currently directing several histology courses at the Medical and the Dental School, as well as a graduate and upper level undergraduate course (CDB450/ 550 "Through the Looking Glass – From Stem Cells to Tissues and Organs"). Besides more traditional modes of teaching, such as regular lectures and laboratory sessions, my courses offer participating students several additional, unique electronic learning resources, such as virtual microscopy. An important aspect of my current work is the development of novel educational tools that are offered to Michigan students and in the future to students at other institutions. One of these tools, which I recently developed, is a series of PowerPoint files called Second Look, which allows students to self-evaluate their histology proficiency before taking quizzes and exams. As this tool is extremely popular with our students, I am currently working on transforming these files into iPad applications to make them also available to non-University of Michigan students. These efforts are supported by grants from the University of Michigan Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) and the Medical School Dean's Office. In addition, I have started to investigate how these new teaching and learning resources influence students' learning and whether they help them to acquire scientific knowledge in a better and more efficient way. Initial results from this study indicate that the manner in which students acquire knowledge in the field of histology is dramatically changing to a more individualized and electronically-enhanced mode of learning.


Postdoctoral work at Stanford University and University of California at Berkeley
Ph.D. in Biology, University of Heidelberg
Diploma in Biochemistry, Free University of Berlin