Kristen Fay Gorman is a biological scientist who specializes in idiopathic-type spinal curvatures, especially idiopathic scoliosis (IS). Her goals are to understand the causes of idiopathic scoliosis and why some curves progress. In 2003, she began her doctoral studies under the supervision of Dr. Felix Breden at Simon Fraser University, where they developed the first genetic animal models for IS. Without an animal model, many scientific questions were impossible to investigate. Using the guppy and medaka fish, she and Dr. Breden demonstrated that some lineages have a naturally occurring genetic spinal curvature that is remarkably similar to human IS. Therefore, these animals are useful for the study of basic biological factors that cause IS.
Their work has inspired a new field of spinal research that uses small laboratory fish. Dr. Gorman performed her post-doctoral studies at Sainte Justine Children’s Hospital in Montreal. There she was able to work with IS patient clinical data, patient genomic data, and bone cells from patient spines. These studies, in combination with studies in fish, have encouraged some exciting insights into the biology of IS. Dr. Gorman is currently at California State University, Chico, where she continues to research the complexity of IS from a biological perspective.