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Name: Parvathy Thampi
From: Kerala, India
Degrees and institutions where received: BS in Veterinary Medicine, Kerala Agricultural University, India
MS in Veterinary Pathology, Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, India

Tell us how did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and interesting career?

After completing her bachelor of science in veterinary medicine, Parvathy Thampi discovered a passion for research, which prompted her to pursue a master’s degree in veterinary pathology. Thampi became interested in cellular mechanisms of tissue repair in response to injury. She then joined the laboratory of James MacLeod, VMD, PhD, John S. and Elizabeth A. Knight Chair and professor of veterinary science at the University of Kentucky (UK) Gluck Equine Research Center, in 2011 to pursue a doctoral degree and study articular cartilage.

What do you do?

Joint disease is one of the most common causes of lameness and can be career-ending for equine and human athletes. Thampi’s research focuses on understanding the mechanisms that limit joint cartilage’s ability to repair, which is why osteoarthritis is a progressive disease throughout life.

“In my doctoral research, I am studying the biology of equine interzone cells, a population of cells present during the early developmental stages of synovial joint formation in mammals, specifically focusing on how their proliferation and differentiation are regulated,” Thampi said. “This research will hopefully advance our understanding of interzone cells as a potential cell-based treatment strategy for the repair of cartilage injuries.”

What are the skills needed for this kind of research?

Thampi’s most valuable takeaway from the program is the value of effective communication and scientific thinking.

“When faced with a scientific problem, you need to think critically, try to find solutions using all the resources available to you, and move forward,” Thampi said.

After completing her doctoral degree, Thampi plans to train as a postdoctoral scholar to gain more experience and pursue a career in research.

Alexandra Harper, MBA, is the operations and communications coordinator for UK Ag Equine Programs.