Student Research Spotlight: Daniel Horuzsko (DO '23) April 27, 2021
Humanized Mouse Models in Organ Transplants
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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