Schultheiss, Sico Named LMU-DCOM Student Researchers of the Year

Student Researchers of the Year

Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM) announced on Tuesday that student doctors Ian Schultheiss and Isabelle Sico were each named Student Researcher of the Year (SROY). Schultheiss represents Harrogate, while Sico represents Knoxville.

The National Student Researcher of the Year Award was established in 2015 through a partnership between the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) and the Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents (COSGP). The National Award recognizes an exemplary osteopathic medical student who has made outstanding contributions to clinical, translational, or basic science research. Osteopathic medical students are eligible to self-nominate for the SROY Award.

LMU-DCOM has a selection committee for each campus, Harrogate and Knoxville, and the selected students from those committees participate in the national student research award. A national winner is selected based on the student's advancement of osteopathic research in a manner that reflects the mission and values of the osteopathic philosophy and the COSGP. The SROY Award highlights students whose research efforts advance the philosophy, practice and science of osteopathic medicine.

Schultheiss, Class of 2026, received a master’s degree from Argosy University in Sport and Exercise Psychology and a second master’s degree from California Baptist University in Biomedical Sciences.

He recently completed research that looked at the efficacy of using 3D-printed structures from patient CT/MRI data. An exam was given to PA students where they found no difference in the ability to identify structures on the 3D printed models versus cast models normally shown in an anatomy class. His research was presented at the University of Kentucky.

In 2021, he presented a case study, along with his colleagues, on an anatomic variation in a whole-body donor during the first year at the American Association of Clinical Anatomists (AACA) hosted by the Mayo Clinic. He is working at completing two separate case studies that look at the anatomic variation in whole body donors through LMU-DCOM’s Anatomical Donation Program.

Additionally, he is working on a grant for LMU-DCOM to begin a study that looks for a correlation between visual spatial intelligence and a student’s palpatory ability using 3D printed models in silicon molds.

“Being selected as SROY is an honor that I am extremely proud of,” Schultheiss said. “I feel honored and blessed to be recognized for the work that my colleagues and I have completed. It is my hope that this award will help to motivate others to continue doing research to make health care and medical education more accessible and affordable for everyone, especially individuals of the Appalachia Region.”

Sico, Class of 2024, received an undergraduate degree in Asian-American Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. She also received her master’s in global health from Duke University, where she worked as a clinical research coordinator.

Currently, she is leading “Assessing Medical and Pharmacy Students’ Perceptions of Teamwork and Communication on Patient Safety Practices,” which is a longitudinal research study involving LMU-DCOM, University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy and South College School of Pharmacy. The study aims to understand students’ perceptions of teamwork and communication in early clinical training and assess how students perceive and identify patient safety errors, concerns and teamwork effectiveness in clinical settings.

In addition to her research study, she was selected to attend the Academy for Emerging Leaders in Patient Safety because of her interest in patient safety, history of leadership and commitment to ongoing education and scholarship in patient safety. Sico was inducted into the Tennessee Interprofessional Education Practice and Education Collaborative (TIPEC).

“I am especially grateful that my selection as SROY can highlight my research focus in patient safety and quality improvement and showcase different types of research methodology,” Sico said. “My passion for research and patient safety began prior to medical school as a graduate student in global health, in which I conducted patient safety and implementation science research at Roosevelt Hospital in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Finding research mentors and a space to develop my research interests at DCOM has been essential to continuing my passion for patient safety.”

The DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine is located on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee, and at LMU-Knoxville in Knoxville, Tennessee. LMU-DCOM is an integral part of LMU’s values-based learning community and is dedicated to preparing the next generation of osteopathic physicians to provide health care in the often-underserved region of Appalachia and beyond. For more information about LMU-DCOM, call 1.800.325.0900, ext. 7082, email, or visit us online at

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