Dr. Carl Kirker-Head is a large animal surgeon, with a musculoskeletal focus, an equine sports medicine expert (tendon, ligament and bone injury and rehabilitation), and professor of large animal surgery at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. As the Marilyn M. Simpson Chair in Equine Medicine, his research and clinical interests range from fracture causation and repair to tendon and ligament rehabilitation to therapeutic farriery. As the director of the Orthopedic Research Laboratory, Dr. Kirker-Head’s research interests include bone, tendon, ligament, and cartilage remodeling and regeneration. He also undertakes research on orthopedic device and database development, as well as catheter-based interventions.
Dr. Kirker-Head contributes lecture, small-group and one-on-one teaching on diverse topics ranging from clinical equine unsoundness and surgery to practice management to non-traditional veterinary income supplementation (industry consultant, expert witness, etc). As the International Chair of AOVET, a preeminent educator in veterinary orthopedics, he is heavily involved in improving patient outcomes by developing life-long educational offerings for veterinary orthopedists across the globe.
Dr. Kirker-Head owns and runs a rehabilitation facility for horses recovering from injury and disease in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.
VETMB, University of Cambridge, England, 1983
MA, University of Cambridge, England, 1984
American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS)
European College of Veterinary Surgeons (ECVS)
Research and Clinical Interests
Equine athletic injury, including non-adaptive bone disease and repetitive motion injury
Orthopedic surgery, particularly internal fixation and arthroscopy
Equine hoof form and function, including therapeutic farriery and laminitis
The farrier-veterinarian relationship
Jenner F,Kirker-Head CA. Core decompression of the Equine Navicular Bone – an in vivo study on healthy horses. Vet Surg 2011; 40:151-62.
Jenner, F, Kirker-Head CA. Core decompression of the Equine Navicular Bone – an in vitro biomechanical study. Vet Surg 2011; 40:163-70.
Kirker-Head CA, Schwoegler M. “A characterization of Farrier Services at Private Equine Surgical Hospitals.” Equine Veterinary Education 2010; 22:513–518.
Kirker-Head CA, Krane G. “A characterization of Farrier Services at United States Veterinary Teaching Hospitals”. Equine Veterinary Education 2010; 22:519–525.
Abuja GA, García-López JM, Doran R, Kirker-Head CA. Pararectal cystotomy for urolith removal in nine horses. Vet Surg 2010; 39:654-9.
Evans CH, Liu FJ, Glatt P, Hoyland JA, Kirker-Head CA, Walsh A, Betz O, Wells W, Betz V, Porter RM, Saad FA, Gerstenfeld LC, Einhorn TA, Harris MB, and Vrahas MS. Use of genetically modified muscle and fat grafts to repair defects in bone and cartilage. Europe Cell Materials 2009; 18:96-111.
Kleine L, Solano M, Rusckowski M, Hunt K, Johnson K, Kirker-Head CA. MA, Evaluation of 99mTechnitium-EDTA-Biotin as a Soft Tissue Imaging Agent in Horses. Am J Vet Res 2008; 69:639-46.
Wang Y, Rudym DD, Walsh A, Abrahamsen L, Kim HJ, Kim JS, Kirker-Head CA, Kaplan, DL. In vivo degradation of three dimensional silk fibroin scaffolds. Biomaterials 2008; 29:3415-3428.
Bone and cartilage growth, remodeling, repair, and grafting
Bone inductive and mitotic proteins
Surgical and other musculoskeletal disease models
Ligament and tendon physiology and response to injury
Orthopedic device development
Per-cutaneous treatment of cardiac disease; animal models of cardiac disease
High-speed treadmill characterization of equine limb motion in the normal and fatigued state. HOSSO, Inc. Determining what abnormal limb motion occurs with onset of muscle fatigue.
“Soft tissue reconstruction using Silk Biomaterials”. Department of Defense/Army/Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine. Seeking ways of improving soft tissue regeneration following injury.
“XROMM characterization of equine lower limb motion”. AERI. Using a novel imaging technology to characterize lower limb motion to within 0.08 mm.
“Bone Regeneration Via Silk Biomaterials” National Institutes of Health-funded. Assessment of natural silk as a facilitator of new bone formation and delivery vehicle for bone inducing proteins and bone-forming stem cells
Specialized Capabilities or Interests
Equine musculoskeletal surgery
Equine general surgery
Medical device and drug testing
Disease and injury models
Advanced imaging modalities, including MRI, CT, DXA, nuclear medicine, XROMM, high-speed video