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Meet Our New Faculty: Dillon Dzikowicz Is Advancing ECG Research, Education

  By Gianluca D'Elia
  Thursday, August 17, 2023

Portrait of Dillon Dzikowicz standing in a School of Nursing lounge.

Shortly after earning his PhD in Nursing & Health Science at the University of Rochester in Spring 2023, Dillon Dzikowicz, PhD, RN, PCCN joined the School of Nursing’s faculty as an assistant professor. 

Dzikowicz also holds a second appointment at the Clinical Cardiovascular Research Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), and maintains practice as a cardiac nurse.

“Being part of the URMC community grants a lot of advantages,” Dzikowicz said. “I am fortunate to have a broad base of connections as I transition to a faculty role.”

As a nurse scientist, Dzikowicz aims to advance cardiovascular care through his research interests in cardiovascular disease, clinical informatics, and machine learning. He primarily focuses on phenotyping physiological signals — such as electrocardiography (ECG), vectorcardiography, and photoplethysmography — among patients with acute coronary syndromes and heart failure, as well as with elevated risk for sudden cardiac death.  

His dissertation, "Differentiating NSTEMI Patients with and without an Occluded Culprit Artery,” has received several recognitions, including the 2023 Eastern Nursing Research Society/Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science Dissertation Award, and a Best Poster award from the International Society for Computerized Electrocardiology. 

Dzikowicz’s interest in all things cardiovascular is rooted in personal experience. A childhood memory of his grandfather undergoing an open-heart surgery stuck with him. Standing by his family throughout the surgery and recovery was also Dzikowicz’s first introduction to cardiology, and he was instantly fascinated. 

Years later, as he pursued his bachelor’s in nursing at the University of Rochester in 2017, his interests in cardiovascular care and research — and more specifically, in electrocardiography — grew even stronger. 

“The ECG is a ubiquitous tool, from emergency departments to primary care offices, yet we take it for granted and don’t always utilize all of the information embedded in its signal,” Dzikowicz said. “That’s where my work has been focused. I envision myself in a collaborative role where I help other researchers interpret data.”

And with the addition of new junior nursing faculty members over the past couple of years, whose interests range from pediatric and young adult oncology to maternal health and more, there are boundless possibilities for collaborative studies, he said.

His recent work reflects his collaborative spirit: Dzikowicz and Professor of Nursing Mary G. Carey, PhD, RN, FAHA, FAAN teamed up with researchers from Google and the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) to help develop a machine-learning model that can predict cardiac events in firefighters. Earlier this summer, the team published its results in Fire Safety Journal.

Dzikowicz’s arrival as an assistant professor also marks the expansion of the School of Nursing’s cardiovascular research team. This summer, fellow cardiovascular nurse scientist Sukardi Suba, PhD, RN joined the faculty as well. Last fall, the school welcomed its new dean, Lisa Kitko, PhD, RN, FAHA, FAAN, bringing expertise in advanced heart failure care and research with her.  

“No matter what discipline you work in as a nurse, every patient has a heart,” Carey said, emphasizing the importance of expanding URMC’s team of cardiovascular nurse scientists. “It’s very important for all nurses to have a high level of competence in cardiac care.”

“There are only a few ECG Laboratories in the country, and few of them are led by nurses,” added Carey, who leads Strong Memorial Hospital’s Clinical Nursing Research Center. “Together, we can accelerate our productivity.” 

Having taught the School of Nursing’s ECG interpretation course for bachelor’s students twice, Dzikowicz looks forward to helping nursing students better understand this important tool, and on a broader scale, shaping the way the course is taught in the future. A three-time alumnus who earned a master’s in nursing education in 2021, he is enthusiastic about incorporating his expertise into undergraduate curricula and introducing more students to career paths in nursing research and informatics. 

“It’s important to foster all aspects of nursing,” Dzikowicz said. “There’s a great opportunity to get nursing students involved in research, even undergraduates, to help broaden career choices and avenues.”

Dzikowicz looks forward to continuing his work at URMC and pushing new discoveries to patients. He is especially grateful for the mentors he has worked with, including Carey; Professors of Medicine Wojciech Zareba, MD, PhD and Jean-Phillippe Couderc, PhD, MBA; and Linwei Wang, PhD, professor of computing and information sciences at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Categories: Research, Nursing Education

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