His lab coat hasn’t even arrived yet. His family is still living in Texas. Matt Cusick, PhD, is trying to adjust to life in Ann Arbor. The trade-off to missing his people and dog is working with high-caliber professionals at every level. It inspires him and keeps him focused.
Dr. Cusick comes to us from Baylor College of Medicine as an Assistant Professor of Clinical Pathology, specializing in immunology. In simple terms, he’s the guy who helps figure out if an organ donation will match a waiting recipient. 0% of his day is spent looking at slides. He has a niche job and fell into pathology by happenstance.
Based on his doctoral and postdoctoral work with exposure to a Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) Lab, the ideal career option was clinical immunology, due to the fusion of basic immunology and the clinical process. The next step in his career was to obtain the appropriate clinical training. Dr. Cusick was a director-in-training at Northwestern University, which gave him the opportunity to continue on his chosen path. The histocompatibility fellowship at Northwestern University provided extensive clinical exposure to both solid organ and hematopoietic stem cell transplant.
At Baylor, Dr. Cusick was an assistant professor and co-director of the BCM Immune Evaluation Laboratory. His responsibilities consisted of reviewing daily testing, consulting with the clinical teams, kidney paired exchange, and management. “I work with certain clinical diagnostics that mirror pathology and help people to advance things, in a collaborative way. Looking at things together is better than looking alone.” To date, he has published over 20 peer-reviewed manuscripts.
"People here have the appropriate amount of experience and support, they’re good at their jobs and are pushed to expand their skill sets. These are not robots. They are thinking and are involved in the process."
Some of his responsibilities at U-M include teaching fellows, educating clinicians, and as he sees it, “putting people in a position to be successful.” While he does plan to guide and teach, he also sees an opportunity for constant growth and learning himself. “People here have the appropriate amount of experience and support, they’re good at their jobs and are pushed to expand their skill sets. These are not robots. They are thinking and are involved in the process.” Dr. Cusick suggests that this leads to fewer mistakes. He boasts that the “quality of everything we do here at U-M is above anywhere else.”
His impression of the Michigan Medicine community is that every department is entirely on board to do what is right for the patient. “We can’t waste the gift of a donor. I’ve seen techs here who will stay late and do whatever it takes to get the patient what they need. The quality of care here at U-M is a huge, impressive feature.” This is what helped convince him to move back north.
Dr. Cusick isn’t new to the Midwest, the cold doesn’t frighten him. He learned to ski at the age of four on Boyne Mountain. Though he later got to ski in Vermont and Utah while earning his master’s degree and PhD, he’s glad to be back in the Midwest. He hasn’t had much time to explore Ann Arbor yet, but is grateful for the kindness Midwesterners are known for. He’s particularly thrilled with his short commute. This will set him up for a better work/life balance when his family joins him in Ann Arbor after the current school year ends.