UK Graduate Student Spotlight: Jennifer Janes

UK Graduate Student Spotlight: Jennifer Janes

Janes' main research focus has been investigating the roles of orthopedic pathology and genetic determinants in equine cervical stenotic myelopathy, commonly known as wobbler syndrome.

Photo: University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment

Name: Jennifer Janes
From: Peoria, Illinois 
Degrees and institute: Bachelors of Music, Vanderbilt University, 2002
DVM, University of Tennessee, 2006
PhD, University of Kentucky, 2014

Jennifer Janes, DVM, PhD, came to the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center for a doctoral degree because it allowed her the unique educational opportunity to pursue her interests in anatomic pathology and equine musculoskeletal disease. This was accomplished through a dual-degree program comprised of an anatomical pathology residency at the UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and a doctoral degree under the mentorship of James MacLeod, VMD, PhD, John S. and Elizabeth A. Knight chair and professor of veterinary science at the Gluck Center.

“The opportunity to learn and train with respected equine scientists was very exciting and has been a wonderful experience,” Janes said.

Janes’ main research focus has been investigating the roles of orthopedic pathology and genetic determinants in equine cervical stenotic myelopathy, commonly known as wobbler syndrome. Wobbler syndrome is an important neurologic and musculoskeletal disease that often has a significant impact on a horse's health and athletic future. Gaining a better understanding of how this disease develops will enhance veterinarians' identification of susceptible horses, treatment, and management decisions.

“Wobbler syndrome is a multifactorial disease, but a major knowledge gap in our understanding is the interactions of these variables--for instance nutrition, growth rates, possibly genetics, that lead to disease development. So the focus of our project was twofold,” Janes said. “First, we used current imaging techniques, specifically MRI and micro-CT in conjunction with classic anatomic pathology, to re-evaluate and identify lesions associated with the neck vertebrae in this disease.”

Understanding the types of lesions present in the bone can provide clues about possible disease mechanisms, Janes said.

“Secondly, given recent advances in equine genomics, we were also able to re-examine the long-standing question of the role of genetic determinants in wobbler syndrome,” she said.

She says she hopes that, together, these two aims can address current knowledge gaps in wobbler syndrome's cause and development.

“My future plans include pursuing my interests in diagnostic anatomic pathology and collaborative research in an academic setting," Janes said. "I hope to continue to make contributions to the further understanding of musculoskeletal diseases in the horse."

Shaila Sigsgaard is an editorial assistant for the Bluegrass Equine Digest.


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