It is with heavy hearts that we report the passing of Jay M. McDonald, M.D., Professor Emeritus and former chair of the UAB Department of Pathology, on June 5, 2019.

Dr. McDonald left a legacy of integrity and vision in our Department, where he served as chair for nearly 20 years, and across the institution. His passing is a true loss for the field of pathology.

RS23317 Jay McDonald 12 1Jay M. McDonald, M.D.

McDonald joined UAB in 1990 and served as chair of the Department of Pathology until 2008. Under his leadership, the department made significant strides in research to become one of the top pathology programs in the nation, ranking sixth in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding.

“Jay recruited physicians and scientists who took the department to a position in the top 10 Pathology departments in NIH funding, while serving patients with state-of-the-art clinical laboratories and educating and training hundreds of students and colleagues,” says George Netto, M.D., the Robert and Ruth Anderson Chair in Pathology.

McDonald graduated medical school from Wayne State University, where he also completed a residency in pathology. He went on to work at Washington University in St. Louis, where he spent 10 years as the director of the Division of Laboratory Medicine in its departments of Pathology and Medicine. He was board-certified in anatomic and clinical pathology.

During his time at UAB, McDonald founded the NIH-funded UAB Center for Metabolic Bone Disease (CMBD) and served as its chair from 1996–2010. Prior to the CMBD, there were few coordinated research efforts in metabolic bone disease and no centralized osteoporosis clinic at UAB. The CMBD established a comprehensive multidisciplinary osteoporosis clinic; developed core facilities to support research and education; increased clinical trials; and recruited new faculty in basic bone biology, biomedical engineering, and clinical research.

After his tenures as chair of the Department of Pathology and the CMBD, McDonald continued to serve as professor emeritus.

“He took his role as professor emeritus to heart, visiting regularly with faculty and staff in the department and across campus with whom he forged lasting relationships during his tenure at UAB,” Netto says.

McDonald’s many achievements include numerous awards for his research. In 2011, the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP) named him recipient of the Gold-Headed Cane Award, the most prestigious honor granted by the organization to a member.  He received the 2010 Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC). He also received the Evans Award from the Academy of Clinical Laboratory Physicians and Scientists (ACLPS), an organization of which he served as president. In 2009, the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) awarded him with the Ward Burdick Award for Distinguished Service to Clinical Pathology. In 2005, McDonald received UAB’s Distinguished Faculty Lecturer Award, the highest honor the institution bestows on a member of its faculty.

From 2003–2008, McDonald served as the editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Pathology, a premier pathology research publication in the country.

The impact of McDonald’s role supporting excellence in research and teaching continues to be felt. McDonald and his wife Sarah, support the department’s mission generously, having established the Jay M. McDonald Endowed Professorship in Bone Pathobiology, and the Jay M. McDonald Endowed Professor in Laboratory Medicine, which they recently pledged to elevate to a chair.

Many people considered McDonald a mentor, having taught countless medical and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and residents over the course of his career. He held trainees and colleagues alike to the highest standards in an ongoing effort to advance the field of pathology as a whole. His portrait graces the walls of the conference room that bears his name in the Chair’s offices.

“Dr. McDonald was a true pioneer in the field of pathology in his leadership of and his vision for what this Department could be,” Netto says. “We are honored to continue his legacy in the training and clinical work we do here each day.”

A celebration of Dr. McDonald's life hosted by the Department of Pathology will take place on July 18, 2019, on the UAB campus. Please contact Christina Crowe for more information: