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Unexpected Passion for Research Leads to MD/PhD Program at NYU

Josh Horton | 2012 Alumnus, B.S. Chemistry, School of Science
MD/PhD Student, New York University School of Medicine

Read what Josh has to say about his experience at IUPUI.

Growing up, Josh Horton figured the best way to help people was to go to medical school and become a doctor. After four years in labs at IUPUI, his dreams of helping people have expanded to include medical research.


“I didn’t have any interest in research at all when I came to IUPUI as a freshman,” he said. “Now it’s really my passion.”

Originally from Jasonville, Ind., Horton came to IUPUI as a Herbert Presidential Scholar. He decided to become a pre-med chemistry major in the School of Science at the suggestion of an influential high school chemistry teacher.

His passion for research was ignited as a volunteer in a chemistry lab his freshman year. Since then, Horton has done research in areas ranging from medicinal chemistry to the kinetics and mutations of enzymes. These experiences, as well as his relationships with faculty mentors, have changed his career outlook.  

“The whole point of research was to find out what I liked to do and gain insight into what my passion was,” Horton said. “I realized that being able to pursue my MD/PhD is a way for me to have an impact on more people.”

Josh Horton in lab of Dr. McLeish, Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology at IUPUI
Josh Horton working in Dr. McLeish's lab.
His future research interests involve the immunology of cancer. Essentially, he wants to develop cancer treatments by re-engineering viruses to attack cancerous tumors or through the use of immunological vaccines.

In 2011, he completed an internship at NYU where he researched another complex virus, HIV, under the guidance of Dr. Ned Landau, one of the leading HIV researchers in the country. After graduation, Horton will begin the prestigious MD/PhD program at New York University School of Medicine.  

Horton said he is grateful for the opportunities he has had at IUPUI, which helped him to grow from a freshman research volunteer toa member of one of the elite programs for young researchers.

 “The amount of support we have had at the School of Science is incredible,” he said. “Students are constantly encouraged to research and explore, and the faculty do everything they can to facilitate it.”

“It’s been an amazing experience,” he added. “Many of my friends at IUPUI are going on to medical or graduate school, and all of us will benefit from the critical-thinking skills we developed through research.”

The NYU MD/PhD program is funded by a scholarship from the National Institute of Health, which will allow Horton to eventually graduate medical school debt-free.

While at IUPUI, Horton received several awards for his academic achievement and research. He was active in several campus and school organizations, such as the Chemistry Club and the IUPUI Honors Club. He also found time to coach a Little League Baseball team.