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Orthopaedic Research Center Affiliate Faculty

Elwyn Firth, B.V.Sc., Ph.D., Diplomate ACVS

Professor and Director, Massey Equine Research, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Dr. Firth is an internationally renowned equine orthopaedic researcher. He has worked closely with Dr. McIlwraith for many years, and, more recently, has become closely involved in a collaborative effort with Drs. McIlwraith and Kawcak, as well as other researchers at Massey University, the University of London, and Utrecht in the Global Equine Research Alliance.


Clifford Michael Les, D.V.M., M.S., Ph.D.

Senior Staff Investigator, Bone and Joint Center Henry Ford Health System

Dr. Les is a Senior Staff Investigator at the Bone and Joint Center, Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan. He is also a member of the Michigan Bone Center at the University of Michigan's School of Medicine and an adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the Wayne State University School of Medicine. Dr. Les received his D.V.M. at the University of California, Davis; his M.S. in Veterinary Biosciences at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; and his Ph.D. in Comparative Pathology at the University of California, Davis. His dissertation work was on material heterogeneity in the equine metacarpus and biomechanical consequences.


Alan J. Nixon, B.V.Sc., Ph.D., Diplomate ACVS

Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Director of the Comparative Orthopaedic Laboratory, Cornell University

Dr. Nixon is a Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Director of the Comparative Orthopaedic Laboratory at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. His research focus is in chondrocyte metabolism and cartilage repair methods using chondrocyte or pluripotent stem cell transplantation. Dr. Nixon's research group has focused on the cloning of growth factor molecules for use in gene therapy protocols, inserting the growth factor gene into cartilage cells at the time of transplantation of synovial cells by direct joint injection. The laboratory group also studies the molecular changes associated with osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) in horses and man, and investigates treatment methods for tendonitis in athletes.

Dr. Nixon's current interests include the use of combination gene therapy using stimulatory growth factors, and, in collaboration with the Orthopaedic Research Center at Colorado State University, the combined use of interleukin receptor antagonist gene therapy to diminish degradation in arthritic joints.


William G. Rodkey, D.V.M., M.S.

Scientific Director for Regen Biologics and Chief Scientific Officer Steadman Philippon Research Foundation, Vail, Colo.

Dr. Rodkey was formerly Director of Orthopaedic Research at the Letterman Institute in San Francisco. He is currently Scientific Director for Regen Biologics and the Steadman Philippon Research Foundation. Dr. Rodkey is one of three veterinarians with a long-term reputation in human orthopaedic research and collaborated with the CSU Orthopaedic Research Center on articular cartilage resurfacing research.

Honors include: Excellence in Research in Basic Science Award (American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine); H. Edward Cabaud Memorial Award for Ligament Research (American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine; Co-recipient of Albert Trillat Award for Excellence in Knee Research (International Society of the Knee); U.S. Army Research and Development Achievement Award (Secretary of the Army); H. Edward Cabaud Memorial Award for Knee Research (2nd) (American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine).


Jude Samulski, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Pharmacology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Dr. Jude Samulski is an important collaborator to our group investigating gene therapy at the ORC. He is a Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and the Director of the Gene Therapy Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Samulski earned his B.S. at Clemson University, a Ph.D. at the University of Florida in Molecular Biology. He did two post docs at SUNY in New York and Princeton University, respectively. He then was on faculty at University of Pittsburgh from 1986-1992 and recruited to UNC as Associate Professor in Pharmacology and Director of the Gene Therapy Center.

Honors include: Outstanding Young Men of America Award and the President's Distinguished Research Award; American Society of Gene Therapy Outstanding Achievement Award, 2009.


Kevin Shelburne, M.S., Ph.D.

Associate Research Professor, University of Denver, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering; Affiliate Faculty Colorado State University, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Veterinary Medicine

Kevin Shelburne received his bachelor's and master's degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University in 1985 and 1988, respectively. He then worked as a Systems Engineer at McDonnell Douglas Space Systems Company, Houston, Texas, where he designed and tested assembly and servicing tasks and robotics systems for the International Space Station. Kevin completed his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin in May 1997. The focus of his dissertation was the computer modeling and analysis of the normal and reconstructed knee joint. Following his dissertation, Kevin worked for Lockheed Martin Space Systems in the design of new satellite launch vehicles.

In 2000, he joined the Biomechanics Research Laboratory at the Steadman Philippon Research Institute. Kevin is the author of numerous articles regarding the modeling and simulation of knee mechanics and is a current member of the American Society of Biomechanics and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Dr. Shelburne joined the University of Denver in 2010.

Honors include: Journal of Biomechanics Award from the World Congress of Biomechanics, 2002.


Natasha Werpy, D.V.M., Diplomate ACVR

Clinical Associate Professor, University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences

Research Interests: Clinical and research focus in equine MRI. Diagnostic imaging, specifically musculoskeletal imaging with emphasis in MRI and ultrasound.

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