University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food & Environment


Gluck Center > Directory > Gluck Faculty >McDowell, KJ > Curriculum Vitae


Karen J. McDowell, MS, PhD
(859) 218-1104

Associate Professor
Department of Veterinary Science
M.H. Gluck Equine Research Center
College of Agriculture, Food & Environment
University of Kentucky


University of Tennessee; B.S., 1976, Animal Science

University of Tennessee; M.S., 1980, Animal Science

University of Florida; Ph.D., 1986, Animal Science

Colorado State University; NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, 1987, Physiology

University of Kentucky; Graduate Certificate, 2006, Clinical Reproductive Sciences

American College of Embryology; Certified Embryologist, 2010, Human Clinical Embryology


1978-1980; Graduate Teaching Assistant, University of Tennessee

1980-1986; Graduate Research Assistant, University of Florida

1986-1987; NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, Colorado State University

1988-1992; Assistant Professor, University of Kentucky

1993 - Present; Associate Professor, University of Kentucky

1999-2008; Community Based Faculty in Clinical and Reproductive Sciences, College of Health Science, University of Kentucky

2008-Present; Joint appointment Department of Clinical and Reproductive Sciences, College of Health Science, University of Kentucky

Outstanding Dissertation Award

College of Agriculture, University of Florida, 1986; Dissertation Research: Establishment of Pregnancy in Mares: Interrelationships Among Uterine Proteins, Prostaglandin F2a and Conceptus Secretory Proteins.

Research Interests

Reproductive Biology

  • Maternal-embryonic communication

  • Embryonic development and embryonic loss

  • Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome

  • Contribution of maternal age to embryonic loss

  • Regulation of luteal function during the estrous cycle and pregnancy

  • Regulation of gene expression in embryonic development and reproductive tract function

  • Effects of endophyte infected tall fescue on reproduction in horses

Grant Support: Past and Present

Grayson Foundation, Inc; Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, Inc.

NIH Biomedical Research Support Grant

NIH Training Program in Reproductive Sciences

Pin Oak Stud Endowed Research Fund

Morris Animal Foundation.

USDA-ARS and University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food & Environment.

Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Foundation

Selected Refereed Journal Publications

McDowell KJ, DC Sharp, A Fazleabas, RM Roberts, FW Bazer. 1982. Partial characterization of the equine uteroferrin-like protein. J Reprod Fert Suppl 32:329-334.

Grubaugh W, DC Sharp, LA Berglund, KJ McDowell, DM Kilmer, LS Peck, KW Seamans. 1982. Effects of pinealectomy in pony mares. J Reprod Fert Suppl 32:293-295.

Sharp DC, W Grubaugh, LA Berglund, KJ McDowell, DM Kilmer, LS Peck, KW Seamans, CL Chen. 1982. Effects of pituitary stalk transection on endocrine function in pony mares. J Reprod Fert Suppl 32:297-302.

McDowell KJ, DC Sharp, LS Peck, LL Cheves. 1985. The effect of restricted conceptus mobility on maternal recognition of pregnancy in mares. Equine Vet J Suppl 3: 23-24.

Sharp DC, KJ McDowell. 1985. Critical events surrounding the maternal recognition of pregnancy in mares. Equine Vet J Suppl 3:19-22.

McDowell KJ, DC Sharp, W Grubaugh. 1987. Comparison of progesterone versus progesterone + oestrogen on total and specific uterine proteins in pony mares. J Reprod Fert Suppl 35:335-342.

McDowell KJ, DC Sharp, W Grubaugh, WW Thatcher, CJ Wilcox. 1988. Restricted conceptus mobility results in failure of pregnancy maintenance in mares. Biol Reprod 39:340-348.

McDowell KJ, DC Sharp, AT Fazleabas, RM Roberts. 1990. Two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of proteins synthesized and released by pony conceptuses and endometria. J Reprod Fert 89:107-115.

McDowell KJ, DG Powell, CB Baker. 1992. Effect of book size and age on foaling rates in Thoroughbred horses. J Equine Vet Sci 12:364-367.

McDowell KJ, MH Adams, NM Williams. 1993. Characterization of oviductal proteins synthesized and released at estrus and at day 4 after ovulation in bred and nonbred mares. J Exp Zool 267:217-224.

McDowell KJ, MH Adams, TL Smith, CB Baker. 1993. Retinol binding protein in equine endometrium. Equine Vet J Suppl 15:19-23.

McDowell KJ, MH Adams, CB Baker. 1993. Chorionic gonadotropin a and ß subunit RNA's are present in equine placental membranes by day 30 of pregnancy. J Equine Vet Sci 13:515-518.

Baker CB, TV Little, KJ McDowell. 1993. The per live cycle foaling rate in mares. Equine Vet J Suppl 15:28-30.

McDowell KJ, MH Adams, CB Baker. 1995. Cloning and sequencing equine transferrin cDNA: synthesis and secretion of transferrin by conceptus membranes. Biol Reprod Mono 1:141-149.

McDowell KJ, MH Adams, KM Franklin, CB Baker. 1995. Changes in equine endometrial retinol binding protein RNA during the estrous cycle, early pregnancy and with exogenous steroids. Biol Reprod 52:438-443.

McDowell KJ, TV Little, PJ Timoney, MH Adams. 1996. Characterisation of proteins in seminal plasma of stallions, geldings, and geldings supplemented with testosterone. Res Vet Sci 61:33-37.

Guruprasad K, T Blundell, S Xie, J Green, B Szafranska, RJ Nagel, K McDowell, CB Baker, RM Roberts. 1996. Comparative modeling and analysis of amino acid substitutions suggests that the family of pregnancy-associated glycoproteins includes both active and inactive aspartic proteinases. Protein Engineering 9:849-856.

Farmerie TA, RA Abbud, PR Budworth, CM Clay, RA Keri, KJ McDowell, MW Wolfe, JH Nilson. 1997. Characterization of the equine glycoprotein hormone alpha-subunit gene reveals divergence in the mechanism of pituitary and placental expression. Biol Reprod 57:1104-1114.

McDowell KJ, MH Adams, CY Adam, KS Simpson. 1999. Changes in equine endometrial oestrogen receptor alpha and progesterone receptor mRNA’s during the oestrous cycle, early pregnancy and with exogenous steroids. J Reprod Fertil 117:135-142.

Simpson KS, MH Adams, CY Behrendt-Adam, CB Baker, KJ McDowell. 1999. Identification and initial characterization of calcyclin and phospholipase A2 in equine conceptuses. Mol Reprod Dev 53:179-187.

Behrendt-Adam CY, MH Adams, KS Simpson, KJ McDowell. 1999. Oxytocin-neurophysin I mRNA expression by equine endometrium. Dom Anim Endo 16:183-192.

Green JA, S Xie, B Szafranska, X Gan, AG Newman, K McDowell, RM Roberts. 1999. Identification of a new aspartic proteinase expressed by the outer chorionic cell layer of the equine placenta. Biol Reprod 60:1069-1077.

Behrendt-Adam CY, MH Adams, KS Simpson, KJ McDowell. 2000. The effects of steroids on endometrial oxytocin mRNA production. J Reprod Fertil Suppl 56:297-304.

Simpson KS, MH Adams, CY Behrendt-Adam, CB Baker, KJ McDowell. 2000. Differential gene expression between day 12 and day 15 equine conceptuses. J Reprod Fertil Suppl 56: 539-547.

Thway TM, CM Clay, JK Maher, DK Reed, KJ McDowell, DF Antczak, RL Eckert, JH Nilson, MW Wolfe. 2001. Immortalization of equine trophoblast cell lines of chorionic girdle cell lineage by simian virus-40 large T antigen. J Endocrinology 171: 45-55.

Webb BA, WE Barney, DL Dahlman, SN DeBorde, C Weer, NM Williams, JM Donahue, KJ McDowell. 2004. Eastern Tent Caterpillars Cause Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome. J Insect Physiol 50:185-193.

McDowell KJ, BA Webb, NM Williams, JM Donahue, KE Newman, MD Lindemann, and DW Horohov. 2010.  Editorial Board Invited Review: The role of caterpillars in mare reproductive loss syndrome – a model for environmental causes of abortion.  J Animal Sci 88:1379-1387.

Book Chapters

Sharp DC, W Grubaugh, LA Berglund, KW Seamans, KJ McDowell, DM Kilmer, LS Peck. 1981. The interaction of photoperiod and pineal gland on seasonal reproductive patterns in mares.  IN: Photoperiodism and Reproduction in Vertebrates. Les Colloques de l'INRA (Eds).  INRA Publications, Nuzilly, France. pp 201-212.

McDowell KJ. 2004. Of caterpillars and horses: recent scientific progress on the cause of mare reproductive loss syndrome. IN: Nutritional Biotechnology in the Feed and Food Insustries. TP Lyons and KA Jacques (Eds).  Proceedings of Alltech’s Twentieth Annual Symposium. Nottingham University Press, Nottingham, England. pp. 355-358.

McDowell KJ, DC Sharp. Maternal Recognition of Pregnancy. IN: Equine Reproduction, 2nd ed.  AO McKinnon, EL Squires, WE Vaala, DD Varner (eds). Blackwell Publishing, pp 2200-2210. 

Graduate Students

Nicole Sullivan. 1997. Lyman T. Johnson Minority Fellow (1995-1997). Thesis title: Molecular Cloning and Chromosomal Localization of the Equine Estrogen Receptor. Ms Sullivan obtained a position as a laboratory technician after she completed her MS degree.

Christa Adam. 1999. John Hughes International Equine Reproduction Fellowship (1998). Larry Ewing Memorial Trainee Fellowship (1999). Dissertation title: Equine Uterine Endometrial Oxytocin: Changes in mRNA Abundance during the Estrous Cycle, Early Pregnancy, and with Exogenous Steroids, and Oxytocin Effects on Uterine PGF2a Release In Vitro. Upon graduation Dr. Adam obtained a tenure-track assistant professorship at Missouri Western State University.

Kristen Simpson. 1999. NIH-Predoctoral Fellow (1998-1999), Geoffrey C. Hughes Fellow (1994-1998), University Open Competition Fellowship (1996-1997), University Allocated Fellowship (1995-1996). Dissertation title: Differentially expressed genes during early equine conceptus development: temporal and spatial expression from day 12 through day 30 of gestation. Dr. Simpson obtained a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of OB/GYN at the University of Kentucky.

Kimberly Smith. 2000. Kentucky Research Challenge Fellow (1998-2000), Kentucky Research Challenge Grant (1999). Thesis title: The Relationship Between Oxytocin and Prostaglandin PGF2a at the Expected Time of Luteolysis in Mares. After completing her MS degree, Ms Smith obtained her DVM at Auburn Veterinary School, and is now in private practice in West Virginia.

Michelle Ward. 2001. Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation Fellow (1999-2000). Thesis title: Development of a Perifusion Culture System to Examine Oxytocin and Prostaglandin PGF2a Interaction in the Mare. After obtaining her MS degree, Ms Ward was employed at Washington State University School of Veterinary Medicine, and subsequently went on to attend veterinary school.

Scarlett Black, MS. 2008. Thesis topic: Effects of the Herbicides Plateau and Cimarron on Pregnancy Maintenance in Broodmares”. Ms Black’s stipend and research were funded by a USDA-ARS research grant. Upon completion of her MS degree Ms Smith attended Auburn University Veterinary School.

Drew Hestad, MS in progress.


Maxwell H.Gluck Equine Research Center
Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky 40546-0099

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