Adams Named Assistant Research Professor at Gluck Center

Amanda Adams and two of her aged research subjects.

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

Amanda A. Adams, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center, accepted an assistant research professor position at the Gluck Center at the beginning of September.

Amamda Adams

Amanda Adams and two of her aged research subjects.

The new 100% research-focused position in the research title series was created in the Department of Veterinary Science to increase its breadth in equine immunology, gerontology, and nutrition. Adams was hired for her extensive immunology experience in working with equine geriatric horses and knowledge of nutritional science. The position will be supported entirely from extramural research funds and/or intramural endowment funds available to the William Robert Mills Chair in Equine Immunology.

"Dr. Adams has made significant contributions to our research program on the aged horse," said David Horohov, PhD, William Robert Mills chair in equine immunology and professor at the Gluck Center. "Her appointment was critical to the future expansion of the Gluck Center's research program on improving the health and well-being of the geriatric horse."

Adams received her graduate and post-doctoral training in Horohov's internationally-acclaimed equine immunology research program at the Gluck Center. After obtaining her BS in biology, with minors in chemistry and equine business management, from Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., she completed her PhD in equine immunology at UK's Department of Veterinary Science in August 2008 before beginning her postdoctoral scholar position.

As a PhD student, Adams' research included:

  • Characterizing age-associated changes in equine immune function, including measuring proliferation responses (in vitro, or in the live horse) via flow cytometry and thymidine incorporation and quantitating inflammatory cytokine (mediator of inflammation) production (in vitro and in vivo, or in the lab) using intracellular staining, ELISAs, and Real-Time PCR (RT-PCR).
  • Identifying the "inflamm-aging" response (increased production of inflammatory mediators) in the aged horse and characterizing adiposity's (fats deposits) effects on aged horses' pro-inflammatory response by conducting a dietary restriction study while measuring inflammatory cytokines over time.
  • Demonstrating aged horses' humoral (in the blood) and cell-mediated responses to influenza vaccination and challenge (in vitro and in vivo). Immune responses to the virus were measured using equine influenza virus (EIV)-isotypic ELISAs, hemagglutination inhibition antibodies, EIV-induced proliferation, intracellular interferon-gamma production, Th1 and Th2 cytokine production using RT-PCR, and clinical disease responses.

As a postdoctoral scholar, Adams' research focused on:

  • Determining the effects of dietary components (tocopherols [vitamin E], omega fatty acids, plant polyphenols [tannins], and prebiotics/probiotics) on age-associated changes of immune function, including responses to recall and novel vaccinations and inflammatory and antioxidant responses in the horse.
  • Further characterizing aged horses' immune response by measuring telomerase (an enzyme associated with aging) activity, investigating T-cell membrane raft components, and identifying "biomarkers" of aging.
  • Studying the effects of polyphenols (resveratrol) on both immune and metabolic responses of equine metabolic syndrome-affected horses.
  • Characterizing the immune response during weaning and understanding probiotic supplementation's effect on fecal microflora and cell-mediated immunity, particularly interferon-gamma production.

"Dr. Horohov's research program has and continues to attract considerable competitive and noncompetitive extramural support for work supporting the research to further characterize the immune system of the aged horse," Adams said. "This research is valuable not only because of the increasing numbers and health concerns of geriatric horses in the United States and elsewhere, but also because of its comparative medical significance with respect to age-related changes in immune function in humans, namely immunosenescence (changes in immunity) and inflamm-aging.

"I am thrilled to continue my research with Dr. Horohov's research team at the world-renowned Gluck Center and even more ecstatic knowing that I will improve the health of the geriatric and metabolic horse, and I expect to make an impact on the aging human," Adams continued.

Adams has published 15 scientific research papers and 18 abstracts. Recent awards include the Paul Mellon Post-Doctoral Scholarship (2008-present), first place presentation award at the American Association of Veterinary Immunologists meeting (2007), Geoffrey C. Hughes Fellowship (2006-2008), and the Fayette County Math and Science and Technology Mentor Award (2006).

During her undergraduate years Adams was a laboratory technician at Clean Earth Technologies LLC, at the University of Missouri's Veterinary Biomedical department, and at Companion Animal Research & Development at Intervet Inc. She also was a biological research and development intern and a pharmaceutical research and development intern at Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc.

For more information about the program for improving geriatric horses' health and well-being, contact Adams at

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

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