Gluck Center Graduate Spotlight: Kadie Vanderman, MS

From: Bentleyville, Pa.

A.A., Liberal Arts, Community College of Allegheny County, 2005
B.S., Animal Sciences, Penn State University, 2007
M.S., Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky, 2011

In December 2010 Kadie Vanderman completed her master's degree under the supervision of James MacLeod, VMD, PhD, John S. and Elizabeth A. Knight chair and professor of veterinary science at the Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center and director of UK's Equine Initiative. Vanderman said there were many reasons she chose to complete her master's at the Gluck Center, explaining that "it has a great reputation and amazing resources in the form of senior scientists, laboratory equipment, current technology, and a relationship with the equine industry."

Kadie Vanderman

Kadie Vanderman, MS, and her horse Cody.


During high school Vanderman was active in rodeo and spent two years competing on the professional rodeo circuit after graduation. She later chose to concentrate her graduate school studies on equine musculoskeletal science after veterinarians diagnosed her horse, Cody, with osteoarthritis.

"When I learned that osteoarthritis is an incurable, degenerative disease, I wanted to contribute to research efforts aimed at finding a cure," Vanderman said. "Dr. Jamie MacLeod is asking the kind of questions in which I was interested, and his lab offered the ideal opportunity to conduct equine cartilage biology research."

During her time at the Gluck Center her main project demonstrated that a cell surface receptor (called BOC) is expressed at high levels in articular cartilage. This receptor binds a very important class of signaling molecules called Hedgehog ligands.

"BOC was first described just eight years ago but previously had been associated only with tissue growth and cellular differentiation in developing embryos," Vanderman said. "Surprisingly, the levels we found in joint cartilage were substantially higher than every other tissue we tested, even embryonic tissues. This is really interesting, in part because the cells in articular cartilage have already completed their differentiation process and only divide infrequently."

MacLeod commended Vanderman's work, which has been accepted for publication in Osteoarthritis & Cartilage, the official journal of the Osteoarthritis Research Society International. The research is the first description of BOC in adult articular cartilage.

Vanderman plans to pursue her doctorate degree and search for answers to important biomedical research questions as a career. She also hopes to someday teach at the college level.

Jenny Blandford is the Gluck Equine Research Foundation assistant at the Gluck Center.

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