Student Research Spotlight: Daniel Horuzsko (DO '23) 
Humanized Mouse Models in Organ Transplants


April 27, 2021

PCOM South Georgia medical student Daniel Horuzsko (DO ’23) conducts research on humanized mouse models.Daniel Horuzsko (DO ’23) earned two degrees at Augusta University, which include a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Master in Public Health concentrated in Healthcare Management and Policy. He also holds a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences from PCOM Georgia.

From a young age, Horuzsko participated in shadowing experiences, medical mission trips and scientific projects. While pursuing two graduate degrees, he also worked as a territory manager in the Atlanta area for a respiratory company. The day Horuzsko defended his thesis at PCOM Georgia was the same day he found out he was accepted into the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program as an inaugural class member at PCOM South Georgia.

Tell us about your research on mouse models.

Our research focuses on creating a mouse model tailored to a patient’s specific immune system for optimal donor selection in organ transplantation. This personalized humanized mouse model has numerous clinical applications that is not just limited to organ transplantation but could be used in other areas such as testing personalized drug doses for treatment, bone marrow transplantation, and cell-based therapy, which include embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. I believe the future of medicine will become more personalized as advancements in technology progress. This research is a direct demonstration of what is to come.

What prompted you to pursue research?

During my undergraduate years, I realized how important translational research is in the field of medicine and I became immersed in it ever since. My research interests started at the Georgia Cancer Center, Medical College of Georgia where my areas of focus were on transplantation, immunology, and cancer. My shadowing experiences within the hospital solidified my intent to become a physician. As my academic career progressed, this led me to pursue a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences at PCOM Georgia where I worked alongside Richard White, PhD, FAHA, concentrating on the protective properties of allicin in cardiovascular health. Concurrently, I was pursuing my Master in Public Health degree concentrated in Healthcare Management and Policy from Augusta University. I was able to work in the Department of Revenue Integrity and Performance Improvement at AU Health where we focused on improving quality outcomes and patient care within the hospital utilizing techniques such as SWOT analysis, budget management and patient tracking. 

What experience do you have conducting research?

Throughout my academic career, I have been blessed with opportunities to give oral presentations at various conferences such as the International HLA-G Conference in Paris, France and Experimental Biology in Orlando, Florida. My collaborative research efforts have been featured in various scientific journals including The Journal of Clinical Investigation, FASEB Journal, Human Immunology, and Journal of Investigative Medicine. I have been extremely grateful to work alongside some of the brightest scientists and physicians in their fields to gain valuable insight into what it takes to create projects that bring meaningful impact to the field of medicine.

What were your responsibilities in this mouse model research project?

This research was a collaborative effort accomplished with colleagues at the Medical College of Georgia Cancer Center. My role in the project was to isolate cells from patients to prepare samples for flow cytometry analysis. I also participated in the injection procedure of introducing peripheral blood mononuclear cells into the humanized mice. Lastly, I played a role in collecting patient samples, organizing schedules, procedures and planning the research design for our project.

What is the broader impact of your research on humanized mouse models?

This research entitled, “Humanized Mouse Model for Optimal Donor Selection in Transplantation,” was recently chosen as the top research submission for the state of Georgia to give an oral presentation at the 2021 Virtual Osteopathic Conference. This conference is in partnership with the Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons (MAOPS), the Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons of Oregon (OPSO), the Georgia Osteopathic Medical Association (GOMA), the Idaho Osteopathic Physicians Association (IOPA), the Kansas Association of Osteopathic Medicine (KAOM), and the Washington Osteopathic Medical Association (WOMA). We hope our research efforts in this project can guide others to implement these techniques to help patients needing a transplant.

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  • About PCOM South Georgia

    Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) extended its commitment to the Southeast by establishing PCOM South Georgia, an additional teaching location in Moultrie, Georgia. PCOM South Georgia offers both a full, four-year medical program leading to the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree and a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences degree. PCOM is a private, not-for-profit institution which trains professionals in the health and behavioral sciences fields. Joining PCOM Georgia in Suwanee in helping to meet the healthcare needs of the state, PCOM South Georgia focuses on educating physicians for the South Georgia region. The medical campus, which welcomed its inaugural class of medical students in August 2019, has received accreditation from the American Osteopathic Association's Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation. For more information, visit pcom.edu/southgeorgia or call 229-668-3110.

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