Kristen Fay Gorman is a biological scientist whose goals are to understand: 1) the causes of idiopathic scoliosis (IS), and 2) why some curves progress to severity while others do not. In 2003 Dr. Gorman began her doctoral studies under the supervision of Dr. Felix Breden at Simon Fraser University, where they developed the first genetic animal models for the study of IS. Without an animal model, many scientific questions were impossible to investigate. Using the guppy and medaka fish, Drs. Gorman and Breden demonstrated that that these fish can have spontaneously occurring genetic spinal curvatures that are 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 and 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.