Michael Fay, Ph.D.

Associate Dean
Downers Grove, IL

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Dr. Fay received his Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi in 1992. He completed his Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in 1997. He began his teaching career at Midwestern University in 1997 as an Assistnat Professor of Pharmacology. He was promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure in 2002. He became the Director of the Biomedical Sciences Program in 2006 and was promoted to the Associate Dean of the College of Graduate Studies in 2019.

Associate Dean

Downers Grove, IL

Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine
College of Dental Medicine-Illinois
College of Graduate Studies - IL

College of Graduate Studies

Biomedical Sciences (M.A.)
Biomedical Sciences (M.B.S.)
Dental Medicine
Osteopathic Medicine

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University of Mississippi | 1992 | Ph.D.
University of Maine | 1987 | B.S.

Courses Taught

Lectures presented in the Pharmacology courses at Midwestern University: drugs for migraine, diuretics, oxytocics and tocolytics, drugs and pregnancy, antiptotozoal drugs, antihelmintic drugs, and the antibiotic lecture series

Professional Development for the Biomedical Sciences Program

Fundamentals of Research

Literature Review


Cadmium is a major industrial environmental pollutant that is known to cause nephrotoxicity at the level of the proximal tubule.  MicroRNAs are small (18-24 nucleotides) non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level.  In collaboration with Drs. Walter Prozialeck and Joshua Edwards, in the Department of Pharmacology, we are investigating the role of microRNAs in cadmium-induced nephrotoxicity and their usefulness as urinary biomarkers of nephrotoxicity. 

Project I:  The environmental pollutant cadmium (Cd) is currently ranked seventh on the EPA/ATSDR Priority List of Hazardous Substances. Human Cd exposure causes damage to various organs, and chronic low-level exposure results in Cd accumulation in the renal proximal tubule epithelial cells resulting in kidney toxicity characterized by a generalized reabsorptive dysfunction. Since Cd is a known renal toxicant, there is great interest in elucidating the molecular mechanisms of Cd-induced kidney injury, and a need to identify effective early noninvasive biomarkers to monitor Cd-induced kidney injury. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small (20-25 nt) non-coding RNAs that inhibit gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. Preliminary data, generated using a 12-week subchronic rat model of Cd-induced nephrotoxicity and miRNA microarray analysis, indicates that Cd causes significant dysregulation of miRNA expression in the renal cortex at week 12 when kidney injury is evident. The miRNAs that exhibited a significant (≥ 2-fold) increased expression with Cd-treatment included: miR-3084a- 3p, -34a-5p, -149-3p -1949, -224-5p, -146b-5p, -3084c-3p, -21-5p, -451-5p; and the miRNAs that exhibited a significant (≥ 2-fold) decreased expression with Cd treatment included: miR-193b-3p, miR-455-3p, miR-342-3p. The overall goal of the this research project is to evaluate the expression and function of miRNAs during Cd-induced nephrotoxicity, and to evaluate their utility as non-invasive biomarkers of Cd-induced kidney injury. The first goal  is to evaluate the expression of these dysregulated miRNAs in the rat renal cortex of Cd-treated rats versus saline control rats at earlier time points in the treatment protocol prior to overt kidney injury (i.e. 3, 6, 9 weeks) using real-time PCR and in situ hybridization. Exosomes are small (30-160 nm) vesicles of endosomal origin that are secreted by cells, and their cargo (e.g. miRNAs) are representative of the cells from which they originated. There is great interest in examining exosomal miRNAs for identification of novel disease biomarkers since exosomal miRNAs are protected from degradation and exosomal shedding increases with disease.  As a second goal for this research project, increased urinary exosome shedding throughout (i.e. 3, 6, 9, 12 weeks) the 12-week Cd-treated subchronic rat model will be assessed with NanoSight® nanoparticle tracking analysis. The expression of exosomal miRNAs, found to be increased (≥ 2-fold) by Cd in the renal cortex, will be evaluated by real-time PCR to determine their utility as biomarkers of Cd-induced injury. Finally, the function of the Cd-dysregulated miRNAs discussed above will be evaluated by transfecting  NRK-52E rat proximal tubule epithelial cells with miRCURY LNATM miRNA mimics and miRCURY LNATM miRNA inhibitors and examining the effects on cell adhesion molecule expression (E- and N-cadherin, β-catenin), transepithelial electrical resistance, cell viability, autophagy, and apoptosis. Overall, these studies will determine the role of Cd-dysregulated miRNAs in Cd-induced kidney injury, and determine the utility of these dysregulated miRNAs as non-invasive biomarkers.


Fay, MJ, Alt LAC, Ryba D, Salamah R, Peach R, Papaeliou A, Zawadzka S, Weiss A, Patel N, Rahman A, Stubbs-Russell Z, Lamar PC, Edwards JR, Prozialeck WC. Cadmium Nephrotoxicity is asociated with altered microRNA expression in the rat renal cortex. Toxics, 6:16, 2018.

Noronha S, Alt LAC, Scimeca TE, Zarou O, Obrzut J, Zanotti B, Hayward EA, Pillai A, Mathur S, Rojas J, Salamah R, Chandar N, Fay MJ. Preclinical evaluation of the Aurora kinase inhibitors AMG 900, AZD1152-HQPA, and MK-5108 on W-872 and 93T449 human liposarcoma cells. In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology-Animal, 54:71-84, 2018.

Incrocci R, Hussain S, Stone A, Bieging K, Alt LA, Fay MJ, Swanson-Mungerson M. Epstein-Barr vius Latent Membrane Protein 2A (LMP2A)-mediated changes in Fas expression and Fas-dependent apoptosis: Role of Lyn/Syk activation. Cellular Immunology, 297:108-119, 2015.   

Edwards  JR, Kolman K, Lamar PC, Chandar N, Fay MJ and Prozialeck WC.  Effects of cadmium on the sub-cellular localization of β-catenin and  β-catenin-regulated gene expression in NRK-52E cells. Biometals, 26:33-42, 2013.

Baxter SS, Carlson LA, Mayer AMS, Hall ML, Fay MJ. Granulocytic differentiation of HL-60 promyeloytic leukemia cells is associated with increased expression of Cul5.  In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology-Animal, 45:264-274, 2009. 

Mayer AMS, Guzman M, Peska R, Hall M, Fay MJ, Jacobson PB, Romanic AM, Gunasekera SP.  Differential Effects of Domoic Acid and E. coli Lipopolysaccharide on Tumor Necrosis Factor-a, Transforming Growth Factor-b1 and Matrix Metalloproteinase-9 Release by Rat Neonatal Microglia: Evaluation of the Direct Activation Hypothesis. Marine Drugs, 5:113-135, 2007.

Fay MJ, Longo KA, Karathanasis GA, Shope DM, Mandernach CJ, Leong JR, Hicks A, Pherson K, Husain A.  Analysis of CUL-5 expression in breast epithelial cells, breast cancer cell lines, normal tissues and tumor tissues.  Molecular Cancer, 2:40, 2003.      


Member, The American Physiological Society

Member, The American Association for Cancer Research

Member, The American Society for Cell Biology

Member, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Member, Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society

Member, The Society for In Vitro Biology


Title: Mechanisms of cadmium-induced dysglycemia

Agency:  National Institutes of Health (NIH R15ES028443)

PI: Joshua Edwards, Ph.D.

Role in Project: Co-Investigator (5% effort)


Title:  Regulation of p53 gene during osteoblast differentiation

gency:  National Institutes of Health

Principal Investigator: Nalini Chandar, Ph.D.

Role in Project: Consultant


Title:  Use of RNAi to Investigate Cullin-5 Function in Breast Cancer

Agency:  National Institutes of Health (NIH R15 CA122003)

Principal Investigator:  Michael J. Fay, Ph.D.


Distinguished Service Award from the Society for In Vitro Biology

Research Career Enhancement Award from the American Physiological Society

NIH Institutional Training Grant Postdoctoral Fellowship

Edith Pritchard Pharmacology Award from the University of Mississippi Foundation