Atherosclerosis Disease | Cadaver Research | PCOM Med Student
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Student Research Spotlight: Samuel P. Prahlow (DO ‘24) 
Atherosclerosis disease and more

September 14, 2021

PCOM South Georgia medical student Samuel P. Prahlow (DO ‘24) discusses his student research projectsSamuel P. Prahlow (DO ‘24) holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Valparaiso University and a master’s degree in public health from Florida State University. He is currently enrolled in the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) program at PCOM South Georgia. Prahlow has been involved in a number of research projects during his undergraduate and graduate education, and his drive for understanding the ‘why’ and ‘how’ has led him to continue that work during his time at PCOM South Georgia.

What does your research study?

Currently, I am working on a few different scientific research projects. At PCOM South Georgia, I am working on a histologic pathology research project with professors Savita Arya, MD, and Shiv Dhiman, MD, along with fellow DO students Emily Wilson, Anthony M. Sciuva, and Katie Bombly. We are studying cadaveric atherosclerosis.

I am also working on two forensic pathology case studies. The first focuses on the characterization of CPR-related injuries discovered at forensic autopsy. The second is a collaboration with fellow DO student, Trung Thanh Bui, which involves forensic deaths related to eye trauma.

What prompted you to pursue research?

I have always enjoyed discovering how things work. This passion led me to pursue research. Knowing how something works is great, but I believe understanding “the why” behind the how is also essential. Research helps to answer both “the how” and “the why”, which is the reason I have been drawn to it.

I also want to take a moment to say that research is collaborative in all facets of the word. I would not be able to be where I am today without my research experience or without those who have mentored, taught and helped me to find research areas of interest.

I want to acknowledge and thank all who have helped me in my research experience thus far in my career. One such mentor that I would like to publicly thank is my father. On top of being a wonderful role model, he has helped guide me on my journey to becoming a physician in so many ways, but especially in the areas of research and research development.

What experience do you have conducting research?

While pursuing my undergraduate degree at Valparaiso University, I participated in a mathematics research internship under one of my professors. Our graph theory research project was interested in k-dense graphs as a means of improving network knowledge and surveillance. Since that time, my passion for research has grown.

Shortly after my internship, I began working on forensic pathology case reports which focused on adding unique findings seen at forensic autopsies to the scientific literature through presentations and publications. I have extensive experience in forensic pathology case reports on a variety of subjects which were presented at the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) and American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) annual conferences going back to 2015.

More recently, while pursuing my MPH at Florida State University, I worked at the Florida Department of Health, Bureau of Epidemiology as a system analyst for ESSENCE-FL, the statewide syndromic surveillance system. While in this position, I led a number of research projects with the ESSENCE-FL team that were presented at the International Society for Disease Surveillance (ISDS) and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) annual conferences, including:

  • Justification for Collecting Urgent Care Data to Broaden Syndromic Surveillance
    Strategy and Approach to Onboarding Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Data Into a Syndromic Surveillance System
  • Characterizing Deaths Related to Hurricane Michael Using Vital Statistics Data
  • Characterizing Differences In Care Seeking Behavior in Emergency Departments and Free-Standing Emergency Departments in Florida

These projects focused on data onboarding and data usage for a variety of data sources within ESSENCE-FL.

As a DO student at PCOM South Georgia, in addition to the current histological pathology research, I have worked with professor Leslie McIntosh, PhD, and fellow DO classmates Derek T. George, Travis Tuck and Cody Hyatt on a case report for anatomical variations seen within our cadaver’s forearm extensor compartment.

What were your responsibilities in this research project?

In the ongoing PCOM South Georgia histological pathology research project, we worked as a group to determine what type of project we wanted to pursue. I was responsible for compiling a list of ideas that we submitted to Dr. Arya and Dr. Dhiman for approval. Once we settled on a project focus, we collaboratively wrote up a project plan, budget, and projected timeline. After our project was approved for funding, we worked with Dr. Arya and Dr. Dhiman to take samples from each of the 12 cadavers for histological slides. We will be reviewing these slides in the near future and presenting our findings.

What is the broader impact of your research?

While the research is conducted on cadavers, it is much like primary research, wherein the actual research does not impact the research subjects, but instead, the results can be used to impact health and healthcare decisions as it relates to improving health outcomes for others. Through this research, we hope to better characterize systemic atherosclerosis as seen within the population of the southeastern United States. Public policy and healthcare decisions can use this characterization to impact and improve outcomes related to atherosclerosis disease.

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In 2019, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), a premier osteopathic medical school with a storied 125-year history, 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. PCOM is a private, not-for-profit institution that 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 region. For more information, visit or call 229-668-3110.

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